Jonah Goldberg

As legal scholar Ilya Shapiro writes, "It cannot be any other way; in a world where corporations are not entitled to constitutional protections, the police would be free to storm office buildings and seize computers or documents. The mayor of New York City could exercise eminent domain over Rockefeller Center by fiat and without compensation if he decides he'd like to move his office there. ... [R]ights-bearing individuals do not forfeit those rights when they associate in groups."

It's really that simple. When liberals insist that corporations aren't really people-people, they do so on the false assumption that conservatives were running around like Charlton Heston in "Soylent Green," shouting, "Corporations are people! They're people!" Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, in his dissent in the Citizen United ruling, writes "[C]orporations have no consciences, no beliefs, no feelings, no thoughts, no desires."

Agreed. But so what? The law doesn't in fact treat corporations just like people. Corporations can't vote or be drafted. And people can't sell fractional shares of themselves. The war on corporate personhood is really nothing more than a novel ploy to regulate corporations more.

What I find most fascinating about the debate over corporate personhood is the fact that the people who defend corporate personhood don't anthropomorphize big business nearly as much as those who oppose it. After all, if Justice Stevens is right about corporations not having beliefs, feelings and desires, why do we hear so much about "corporate greed." Non-human entities can't be greedy, can they?


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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