Standing Up to Corporate Personhood

by jhwygirl

Today started off with Missoula Representative Ellie Hill, HD94 preparing for hearing on her second bill of the session, HJ10.

Hill’s first bill, HB394 was heard in House Business and Labor yesterday. It would eliminate the license exemption for certain private adolescent treatment programs.

She didn’t make today’s hearing – which has now been delayed – because she broke her hand! And while the hearing was delayed, I hear rumors she was back at the Capitol before days end.

Talk about a tornado. Rep. Hill has been impressive. She sits on the House Judiciary Committee and is doing a notably amazing job with her focus on issues. I’ve listed to quite a few crazy gun bills, and in the face of all that lunacy, her questions provided a wealth of wisdom.

Today she was prepared to stand up to the individual freedom affronting Citizens’s United v Federal Election Commission SCOTUS decision which allows corporations to spend unlimited and unreported amounts of money on elections.

I’ve asked myself of late, given the apparent malfeasance of Justice Clarence Thomas and his socially-challenged wife Ginny, how you deal with that kind of obvious corruption of the process.

One way is to, as the State of Montana, call on the United States Congress to join the tens of thousands of citizens, local governments, and grassroots organizations across the county to call for an amendment to the United States Constitution to abolish corporate personhood and return our democracy, our elections, and our communities to America’s human persons and to thus reclaim our sovereign right to self-governance.

HJ10 hasn’t been rescheduled yet. That gives you time to email in your support for HJ10…and to provide additional comment on the bill. This online form is easy to use. You can email the whole Business and Labor Committee at once, or you can email each individual legislator on the committee.


  1. Corporate personhood makes me support the death penalty.

  2. CharleyCarp

    Well, wait a minute. Can the government shut down the New York Times because it doesn’t like an editorial? Can it be sued for libel by, say, a Southern sheriff, for factual errors in a story about the enforcement of Jim Crow laws? Can the county take over ranchland that belongs to a family corporation without any compensation? If a corporation is charged with a crime, does it have the right to a lawyer, and can it’s lawyer cross-examine the adverse witnesses? In a civil suit, is Exxon entitled to notice of the suit and an opportunity to be heard in response? Can the police search the offices of the Missoulian (say for the identity of a confidential source) without a warrant?

    It seems to me that rather than attack corporate personhood, which is neither new nor limited in significance to political campaign contributions, the better approach might be to impose limits via the corporate charter process. (I’ve thought this solution about 5 minutes through, and will be happy to be shown the error of my ways . . .)

      • CharleyCarp

        Gee, you mean more than 5 minutes thought?

        A corporation is a creature of state law. I wonder if state corporate law could be used to limit corporate powers. It would be great to get Delaware on board, to capture most businesses.

        As I get past the 7 minute mark, though, I end up with some of the same problems: what about the Missoulian? Can you really tell Lee Enterprises that it lacks the power to make independent expenditures (ie endorsements) in favor of one candidate or another? Probably not.

      • CharleyCarp

        Corporate personhood is, as you can see from the example in my first comment, essential to the functioning of a modern society. The alternative is not having corporations — i.e., having people do business either through sole proprietorships or partnerships. This would have serious ramifications for capital formation, etc., and the transition would be chaotic beyond belief.

        But let’s assume we wanted to go ahead and do that, and so Exxon ends up owned by a single person (lets call him JDR for short). JDR cares a whole lot about what sorts of legislation comes out of Washington, and out of Helena. He cares enough to write checks to particular candidates, and to put billboards up on his property. He prints bumper stickers, and hires a producer to make some slick ads that he uploads to youtube.

        JDR is a human person, so none of this is affected by eliminating corporate personhood. What, then, has been accomplished?

      • CharleyCarp

        I’d be happy to see a state experiment in using the charter power. Failing that, though, if the US Constitution is to be amended, then I think you’d want to go straight to the real issue at hand, and exempt political contributions of money or payments in kind from the First Amendment. Yes it would be an ugly can of worms, but nowhere near as ugly as essentially ending the 150 year experiment in using the corporate form.

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