The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 3, 2014

Corporations are people? It's a real legal concept

WASHINGTON (AP) — There may be more to that "we the people" notion than you thought.

These are boom times for the concept of "corporate personhood."

Corporations are people?

Mitt Romney got mocked during the 2012 presidential campaign for the very idea.

But it turns out the principle has been lurking in U.S. law for more than a century, and the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, gave it more oomph this week when it ruled that certain businesses are entitled to exercise religious rights, just as do people.

Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the court's majority, said protecting the religious rights of closely held corporations, which are often small, family-run businesses, "protects the religious liberty of the humans who own and control them."

In its ruling, the court said closely held corporations with religious objections cannot be forced to pay for their employees' insurance coverage for contraception, as required under President Barack Obama's health care law.

Four years earlier, the corporations-as-people idea got another big boost when the court voted 5-4 to expand the free speech rights of businesses and labor unions by striking down limits on their political spending. That unleashed a massive flood of private money into political campaigns.

The rulings have triggered renewed debate over the idea of corporations as people, which surfaces in legal cases stretching back to the 1880s.

There are wonky legal discussions about the differences between "artificial persons" (corporations) and "natural persons" (the kind with flesh and blood).

TV comics riff on the notion that fake people have more rights than real people.

There's a petition drive to amend the Constitution to ensure that "inalienable rights belong to human beings only."

------

All of this calls for a brief reality check: Corporations really aren't people.

Everyone knows this.

Even Romney, who was criticized for being out of touch when he famously told a protester that "corporations are people, my friend."

Text Only
AP National
  • Senate likely to come up short on border bill WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill to deal with the immigration surge at the border appears headed for procedural defeat in the Senate as lawmakers trade blame over their inaction on the crisis. Days ahead of Congress' five-week summer recess, Senate Democrats

    July 30, 2014

  • House set to take up $17B VA overhaul bill WASHINGTON (AP) — With a new Veterans Affairs secretary in place and an August recess looming, Congress is likely to move quickly to approve a compromise bill to refurbish the VA and improve veterans' health care. The House could vote on the $17 bill

    July 30, 2014

  • Trafficking bust reveals worries over missing kids WASHINGTON (AP) — When FBI agents and police officers fanned out across the country last month in a weeklong effort to rescue child sex trafficking victims, they pulled minors as young as 11 from hotel rooms, truck stops and homes. Among the 168 juve

    July 30, 2014

  • The man responsible for Hilton's grand turnaround McLEAN, Va. (AP) — Nearly every weekend, Chris Nassetta is cooking in his family's oversized kitchen, outfitted with two commercial-grade refrigerators, three sinks and a deep fryer. These aren't small meals. Between his wife, six daughters, friends,

    July 30, 2014

  • What's a group selfie? Usie (pronounced uss-ee) NEW YORK (AP) — What do you call a group selfie? An usie, of course! As in "us." Pronounced uss-ee, rhymes with fussy. "Usies are a growing trend that I think have far more social value than selfies," said Michal Ann Strahilevitz, a professor of mark

    July 30, 2014

  • With Israel at war, US lawmakers give full support WASHINGTON (AP) — As the war in Gaza escalates, U.S. lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration to take no action that puts pressure on Israel to halt its military campaign against Hamas. Many even have criticized the administration's effort to

    July 29, 2014

  • Abuse suspect dead; two marshals, NY policeman hurt NEW YORK (AP) — A California man who skipped town after being accused of molesting a boy was killed and three law enforcement officers trying to arrest him were wounded in a daytime shootout inside a small smoke shop in one of New York's most bustlin

    July 29, 2014

  • Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute. These consumers fall behind on credit cards or hospital bill

    July 29, 2014

  • Despite good news, benefit programs face problems WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite some good news, Medicare and Social Security still face long-term financial problems as millions of baby boomers reach retirement. Social Security's disability program is already in crisis as it edges toward the brink of ins

    July 29, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR ENTERS FOURTH WEEK — DURATION, DEATHS MATCH FIRST CONFLICT Heaviest bombardment in Gaza yet as Israeli aircraft, tanks and nav

    July 29, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National