hearts and minds

November 10, 2018

Proof that a Corporation is NOT a “Person” in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution

Our U.S. Constitution begins with the sentence, “We the People … do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”.  The first sentence of Article I Section 2, and the first sentence of the 17th Amendment mandate that our Representatives and Senators shall be “chosen” and “elected” “by the People of “each state”.  Those three sentences establish that our government is to be by and for “the people”.  They include the only two sentences in all seven original Articles in which the word “People” even appears.  The word “person(s)” appears 49 times in today’s Constitution.  The Constitutional meaning of those words is of critical importance to us, since the U.S. Constitution (as ratified and amended) explicitly outlines inherent rights possessed by all individual “Persons”, who, taken as a whole, constitute “the People”.  ( See: Headnote* and Footnote **** below.)

The first two sentences of the third paragraph of Article I Section 2 explicitly assign to the Congress the authority and the responsibility to identify all “Persons … in such Manner as they shall, by Law direct”, and to enumerate them (as per a Constitutional formula).   This identification and enumeration is needed in order to allocate a number of “Representatives” proportional to the “Number” of “Persons” in each state, who are then elected by “the Electors in each State”.  So, to determine ‘What is and what is not a Constitutional “person”?’ we must discern (a) ‘How does the U.S. Constitution itself use the word “person”?’ and (b) ‘How has the U.S. Congress defined a “person”, in complying with its Constitutional duty in paragraph 3 of Article I Section 2, and later, with Section 2 of the 14th Amendment?’

In 1787 (a) the Constitution referred to indigenous people and slaves as “Persons” [see the 3rd sentence of Art I Sec 2, the 1st sentence of Art I Sec 9, and the 3rd sentence of Art IV Sec 2].  And the Constitution required that, with one and only one exception, ALL Persons” were to be enumerated for the all-important purpose of apportioning Representatives in Congress.  The ONLY category of “persons” who were NOT to be counted in apportioning Congressional representation was identified as “Indians not taxed”.  In other words, the Constitution identified “Indians not taxed” as “persons”, in the same sentence that it mandated NOT counting such “persons” for purposes of apportioning Representatives in Congress.  From the very beginning, the U.S. Constitution has delegated to the U.S. Congress the authority and the responsibility to identify and to enumerate ALL other “persons”.  The Constitution never explicitly asserted or even implied or suggested that horses and oxen; or that trees, mountains, buildings, rivers, machines, and mills; or that religious institutions, schools, chartered companies, gangs, clubs, mobs, and corporations; or anything else that is not an individual, born and living human being; is a “person”.  Importantly, it also did not assert that anything other than individual, born and living human beings are not to be counted for the purpose of apportioning representation in Congress.  It directed the Congress that ALL “Persons … excluding Indians not taxed”  shall be identified and counted.  Therefore, beginning in 1790, and continuing through the present, if ANY of those entities named in the two preceding sentences were or are, somehow, some way, legitimately “persons” in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution, then without a doubt, they should have been and would have been enumerated as such by the Congress in complying with Article I Section 2 (and later the 14th Amendment) every ten years.  The plain fact that none of these or other entities have EVER been referred to as, or even implied to be, “persons” by the Constitution, and have never been identified or counted by the Congress as “persons”  for apportioning representation of “the People” in government (without objection from anyone in or out of the Congress) establishes incontrovertibly that they are NOT and never have been “persons” in the meaning of the Constitution.  This is painfully clear and obvious to anybody with an ounce of common sense to complement an ounce of intelligence, but there are some highly-placed legal, political, academic, and mass media professionals who insist on rigorous, explicit, logical proof.  And there are those who among them who will stubbornly reject out-of-hand, or simply ignore such proof.

Ever since 1787, (b) the U.S. Congress has always identified all people of color in the USA, including slaves and their descendants, as “persons”, in complying with Art I Sec 2 and later the 14th Amendment.  Congress has also, always identified women as Constitutional “persons” in complying with the 3rd paragraph of Art I Sec 2 and the 3rd sentence of the 14th Amendment.  And Constitutional “Persons” undeniably have Constitutional rightsThose rights exist despite even wholesale, systemic, repeated failure or refusal to recognize, honor, protect and defend those rights.  The problem is not that people don’t have those Constitutional rights.  The problem in such cases is that those rights have been illegitimately violated and denied, and have not been protected.  For example, the 1857 U.S. supreme Court did just that in the infamous decision against Dred Scott, which outrageously ruled that Black people had NO rights at all that any white person was bound to respect.  And in 1874 the U.S. supreme Court upheld laws denying women the right to vote, despite the 14th Amendment declaring, “nor shall any state deny to any person … the equal protection of the laws”.  In these and other matters, personnel of the U.S. supreme Court, as well as other government officials throughout our history, have violated both their oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and the Constitutional rights of “Persons” – a word which, according to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Constitution, includes slaves, people of color, women, and persons who are not citizens – but which most certainly does NOT include artificial legal entities.

Slaves, women, indigenous peoples, immigrants, destitute refugees, wealthy white males – all have been Constitutional “Persons” since 1790.  However, the Constitutional word “Party” encompasses all legal entities, even if they are not “Persons” [see Article I Section 3, Article III Section 2, Article IV Section 2, and the 13th Amendment].  The 3rd sentence of Article IV Section 2 is revealing.  Why use both the word “Party” and the word “Person” in that one unique Constitutional sentence?  It refers to a slave as a “Person”, while referring to a slave-holder as a “Party”.  The Constitution had already established that a slave is a “Person” [see Sec 2 and Sec 9 of Art I].  But isn’t a slave-holder also a “Person”?  Well, the reason the word “Party” was used in that sentence is that, actually, the word “Person” did not, by any means, cover all slave-holders.  Virtually all persons who were transported in chains across the Atlantic Ocean’s ‘middle passage’ were captives of chartered companies.  Through the centuries, many institutions, for-profit companies, and other artificial legal entities, both before and after the American Revolution, held very many “Persons” as slaves, and held many other “Persons” as indentured servants.  The original thirteen colonies themselves were actually chartered for-profit privately-held companies, which held very many slaves and indentured servants.  They continued to hold such “Persons”, even after the American Revolution transformed those previously chartered, for-private-profit companies into government entities – the “States” comprising the “United States”.  (Apparently, the Tea Party patriots, the revered ‘Founders’, and the heroes who fought for the American Revolution and the establishment of the United States of America, were not guided by the late 20th century right-wing mantra that “government is not the solution, government is the problem”.  Apparently, they believed in and risked their lives establishing a democratic government by and for “the people”, as the solution to the exploitation and the oppression they had experienced at the hands of privatized corporations that were chartered by and for an aristocracy.)

(a) The word “Party” is used in the U.S. Constitution to encompass all legal entities … including artificial ones.  In the third sentence in Section 2 of Article IV, the word “Party” was used to enable ANY slave-holders – not merely those slave-holders which happened to be “Persons” – to summarily, and without any due process, bodily restrain and transport to that “Party” any “Person held to Service or Labor”, which the “Party” alleges to have escaped from it.  So, a corporation can undoubtedly be a Constitutional “Party”, but the Constitution never refers to an artificial legal entity as a “Person”(b) Therefore, corporations could only be Constitutional “Persons” if Congress had identified them as such in exercising its exclusive authority as mandated in the 3rd paragraph of Article I Section 2.  But Congress has never done that in 23 consecutive enumerations of “persons” done every ten years.  So, there can be no doubt that a corporation is NOT a “Person” in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution.  Ever since 1790, right through today, Congress has, every ten years, identified a Constitutional “person” as nothing more and nothing less than a human being within the jurisdiction of the United States that was born alive and has not yet died.

The Constitutional meaning of the all-important word “person” cannot legitimately change from one clause to the next, or from one sentence to another in the Constitution, or from one year to another, or from one century to another, without a carefully considered, ratified Amendment.  And the Constitutional definition of a “person” certainly cannot be changed by a judge’s decision, or by another country’s laws or history, or by a confusing rationale woven by corporate sycophants, or by the enactment of some local, state or federal legislation or regulations, which does not comply with the U.S. Constitution.  It takes a Constitutional Amendment to change the Constitutional meaning of the word “Person”.  A “person” who is identified as such by the Constitution, and/or by the U.S. Congress in order to apportion legislative representation, is the same “person” who is ensured the equal protection of the laws, as well as all the other important Constitutional guarantees of inherent, unalienable human rights.  Our U.S. Constitution did not and does not provide those precious, unique human and civil rights to artificial legal entities – in particular, to corporations.

The word “person(s)” appears four times in the first three sentences of the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868.  The third sentence of that Amendment revised the formula for apportioning every ten years the representatives of the people.  Any Amendment could have changed the unambiguous Constitutional meaning of the word “Person”.  But none ever have.  And the 14th Amendment most emphatically did NOT do so.  That sentence only (i) replaced the two previous categories of “Persons” – i.e. “free Persons” and “all other Persons” – with one all-encompassing category – i.e. “persons” – and (ii) eliminated the strange provision that “all other Persons” in each state are counted as 3/5ths of their actual total number.  Nor did it change the Constitutional authority regarding the identifying (and enumerating) of “Persons”.  That authority remains with the U.S. Congress.  The U.S. Constitution was (and remains today) certainly not perfect.  But it is slanderous to ignorantly and glibly blame the Constitution, including the extremely well-composed, human-rights strengthening 14th Amendment, which was and is so important for ALL of us, for gross historical and continuing violations of human rights.  Those notorious, massive violations were actually caused by the active, intentional undermining of, and the failure to uphold and defend, the Constitution and the inherent, unalienable Constitutional rights of “persons”, and by the usurping of those rights by corporate power.

The U.S. Constitution has always delegated to the U.S. Congress the sole authority to “by law direct” … “the actual Enumeration” of “Persons”.  So, neither the President nor the supreme Court may legally change the (now centuries old, long accepted, eminently sensible) Constitutional meaning of the word “person”.  Indeed, they are sworn to uphold it!  Moreover, despite a widely spread false narration, the supreme Court has never published a deciding Opinion of the Court, which (like this essay) actually and carefully examined the Constitution itself, on whether a corporation is or is not a “person” in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution.  Instead, the supreme Court has usurped Congressional authority (i.e. it has ‘legislated from the bench’) and it has unilaterally changed the Constitution (without bothering to amend it as required by Article V).  It has done this by the mysterious, sometimes undecipherable process known as ‘establishing legal precedence’.  In this case, that process has been transparently unjustifiable, fraudulent, and corrupt, and corporate power has taken illicit possession of the Constitutional status of a “person”, and the rights of the people.  Moreover, corporations (which are artificial entities, chartered by and acting under the authority of the government) have also been enabled and encouraged (by corporatists holding public office) to notoriously and blatantly violate and deny with impunity the inherent, unalienable rights of real, Constitutional “persons”.  And corporations have even grasped for their own purposes the Constitutional prerogatives and the reins of government.  The result has been to displace Constitutional government that is by and for the people, replacing it with corporate rule**.  And the consequences of that*** are both ominous and rapidly growing.


This proof, inspired by the life and work of Frederick Douglass, was first discovered in 2011; The narration of this proof was revised in 2018.

* Headnote:  You may understandably doubt that a rigorous inquiry into whether a corporation fits within the legal definition of a “person”, and that a careful examination of how this question was addressed in the 18th and 19th centuries, and who exactly should and should not authoritatively resolve this question, has any conceivable relevance or importance to us in the fast-moving 21st century.  But if you are among those who share this doubt, I ask you to consider the following question, and I also ask you to read the essay, “The Ultimate Universal Invasive Species is Bound for Planet B”.  The question I pose (concerning relevance to us here and now, and to future generations) is: ‘If you believe that government should be of, by and for the people; a democratic republic in which the people collectively are sovereign, and in which every person is considered endowed with equal unalienable human rights – then how should it be decided, and who should decide what is and what is not a “person”; exactly who and what constitutes “the people”, as artificial intelligence rapidly unfolds beyond its current Kittyhawk stage; as genetic engineering develops and becomes increasingly implemented in and imposed upon living natural and manufactured organisms?  When, if ever, does a device become a “person”?  And if a device is not allowed to become a “person”, no matter how bright, how self-conscious, how autonomous, how adept and talented it may be, then what rights, what appeal, what recourse, if any, does it have?  Where is the line to be drawn – and who should draw it – between what is a “person” and what is not a “person”?  Will “persons” continue their current status as the king-of-the-mountain?  The choices made and the actions taken in previous centuries by previous generations, have established some unfortunate precedents and practices, which will likely ill-serve current and future generations.  The question, ‘Is a corporation legitimately a “person” in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution?’ can only be satisfactorily answered if consensus can be achieved in establishing ‘What is a “person” in that context?’  Whether a corporation is a Constitutional “person” has been a far simpler question to answer with confidence, than the question that will be pressing increasingly hard on us, which is, ‘What is and what is not a “person” (regarding human rights and self-governance) in the context of manufactured forms of life and intelligence.  And a good answer to that more difficult question now looming before us is made far more urgent because, ironically, the question ‘Is a corporation a Constitutional “person”?’ has been so erroneously and fraudulently answered by past and current generations of ‘deciders’, with the result that corporate rule (rather than government that is by and for the people) has become established, and that unregulated corporate power now controls and owns the imminent developments in artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

** https://clydewinter.wordpress.com/2018/11/10/declaration-of-independence-from-corporate-rule/

z*** https://clydewinter.wordpress.com/2018/11/10/the-ultimate-universal-invasive-species-is-bound-for-planet-b/

****  Footnote: The word “people” appears only twice in the seven original Articles, and seven times in the 27 Amendments. The word “person” appears 49 times, and the word “citizen” appears 21 times throughout the Constitution, including Amendments. This proof is NOT focusing upon the difference between a “person” and a “citizen”. It is focusing upon the difference between a “person” or “citizen” (on the one hand), and a “party” (on the other hand). The words “corporation” or “chartered company” or “artificial legal entity” do not appear anywhere in the U.S. Constitution, despite the undoubted importance of chartered companies in the colonizing of the Western Hemisphere. All of the Founders, and the revolutionaries comprising the famous Boston Tea Party, who took militant action against an oppressive monopoly granted to the ships and cargo of the huge for-profit, privately owned British East India Company – which was also promoting, engaged in, and fully exploiting the cruel trans-Atlantic slave trade – were quite fully aware that most of the original 13 colonies were themselves for-profit, private companies that were chartered by the British monarchy. So such entities were neither unfamiliar nor unimportant to the Founders and the revolutionaries who fought to establish the United States of America. The American Revolution, and the concluding paragraph of the unanimous Declaration of Independence, transformed those very colonies from chartered privately owned, for-profit companies, with “Allegiance to the British Crown”, into closely-allied “state” governments, which then comprised the “United States of America”. Be it noted that the American Revolution was not in any way, shape, or fashion engaged in ‘privatizing’ government – instead, it created a new form of government (intended to be of, by, and for the people) out of private, for-profit chartered companies. The very brief and concise U.S. Constitution carefully outlines the relationship of “the people” to our government, and establishes the rights of “persons” and the responsibilities of government. And the U.S. Constitution left entirely to the Congress, and to the states, and to the future, the definition, permitting, status, and regulation of artificial legal entities such as corporations. People today often think of the word ‘party’  as referring to the so-called Democratic and Republican political parties. But that is not how the U.S. Constitution uses the word “party”. The word “party”, which appears 5 times in the U.S. Constitution with Amendments, is used to refer to legal entities of any kind, including artificial legal entities. For example, a “party” can be a public institution (like a library or a university), a government branch or agency (like the Department of the Interior or the state highway department, or a local municipality), a foreign government or institution, … or a corporation. An individual, actual human being is also a legal entity, and therefore can be a “party” as well as a “person”. However, if an individual human being (a “person”) is the sole owner of a corporation, that corporation is NOT the “person”. It is (like any other corporation) a “party”. Similarly, the (sole, human) owner of that corporation is NOT the corporation itself. A “person” is not an artificial legal entity, and an artificial legal entity (e.g. a corporation) is certainly not a “person” in the meaning of the U.S. Constitution.

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