A long-standing, and deeply controversial, question in constitutional law is whether or not the Constitution's protections for “persons” and “people” extend to corporations. Law professor Adam Winkler's We the Corporations chronicles the most important legal battles launched by corporations to “win their constitutional rights,” by which he means both civil rights against discriminatory state action and civil liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution (p. xvii). Today, we think of the former as the right to be free from unequal treatment, often protected by statutory laws, and the latter as liberties that affect the ability to live one's life fully, such as the freedom of religion, speech, or association. The vim in Winkler's argument is that the court blurred this distinction when it applied liberty rights to nonprofit corporations and then, through a series of twentieth-century rulings, corporations were able to advance greater claims to liberty rights. Ultimately, those liberty rights have been employed to strike down significant bipartisan regulations, such as campaign finance laws, which were intended to advance democratic participation in the political process. At its core, this book asks, to what extent do “we the people” rule corporations and to what extent do they rule us?
From Property Rights to Liberty Rights: We the Corporations, A Review Essay
, 95 Business History 335
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/1498