Monday, March 26, 2018

Adam Winkler's "We the Corporations"

Adam Winkler is a professor of constitutional law at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights (2018) and Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America (2011).

Winkler applied the “Page 99 Test” to We the Corporations and reported the following:
From page 99:
Corporations, Webster argued, should be able to come into a state and operate under the same terms and conditions as any local corporations, even if headquartered elsewhere. What Webster was seeking, in essence, was to give corporations a constitutional right to do business nationwide without state interference.
That's Daniel Webster, the legendary orator, and the case referred to was decided by the Supreme Court in 1839. Although Citizens United cast a spotlight on the rights of corporations, We the Corporations shows that corporations have been fighting to win constitutional protections since America's earliest days. Unlike minorities and women, corporations never marched in the street demanding equal rights. Instead, they fought for over two centuries to win Supreme Court cases extending to them the fundamental rights of individuals. And the struggle for corporate rights was intertwined with major moments and controversies in American history: Hamilton and Jefferson's battle over the Bank of the United States; antebellum debates over slavery; Teddy Roosevelt's trustbusting; Prohibition; the Civil Rights Movement; and the Reagan Revolution.

In this hidden yet vitally important campaign, corporations were represented by the nation's best lawyers, such as Webster. While civil rights organizations have traditionally been underfunded, corporations have always had the financial resources to hire the most expensive, creative, accomplished lawyers to file risky, test cases. For corporations, litigation is just another business expense and the potential returns can be substantial. Constitutional rights are used to challenge laws regulating business activity--laws enacted to protect consumers, investors, or the larger public. And, with the counsel of brilliant lawyers like Webster, corporations have managed to win Supreme Court cases granting them nearly all the rights of individuals. The fight for corporate rights is one of the most successful yet least known "civil rights movements" in American history.
Learn more about We the Corporations at the publisher's website.

The Page 99 Test: Gunfight.

--Marshal Zeringue