This Note explores the legal and constitutional rights granted to corporations and highlights how these corporate benefits are often at the expense of individuals. Over the past century, the corporation has evolved, taking on human-like characteristics. While many statutes and the Constitution use the word “person,” courts have inconsistently interpreted the definition of “person” in determining when it expands to corporations. In courts’ ad hoc analysis and interpretation, individuals get the metaphorical short-end of the stick.
The First Amendment of the Constitution was interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court to afford the right of free speech to corporations in the context of political spending. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was interpreted as giving religious protections to for-profit, closely held corporations. When asked whether a closely held corporation with a single shareholder is protected under the Fifth Amendment’s right against self-incrimination, the Court answered in the negative, again, leaving the individual vulnerable. Lastly, this Note covers the Supreme Court jurisprudence prohibiting an individual from suing a foreign corporation acting outside of the United States under the Alien Tort Statute. The rights and protections afforded corporations have been determined without much consistency. The only consistency is the result—harm to individuals and stakeholders.
Loren M. Findlay,
Artificial Entities with Natural Rights: Pursuing Profits at the Expense of Human Capital,
26 Wash. & Lee J. Civ. Rts. & Soc. Just. 743
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/crsj/vol26/iss2/10