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The ITT List

Thursday, Apr 25, 2013, 3:11 pm

Alt Press Pick of the Week: Pennsylvania Judge Decrees Corporations Aren’t People

By Alternative Press Center

A recent Pennsylvania court decision gives hope to anti-corporate activists nation-wide.
(Shannon Kringen / Flickr / Creative Commons)

Not all judges believe corporations are people. At portside.org, Mike Ferner's "In PA, the Corporation Does Not have Natural Personhood—Democracy Is Coming? To the USA" details a decision by Pennsylvania Judge Debbie O'Dell-Seneca that states that local hydraulic "fracking" companies have no rights to privacy on the grounds that, under the state's constitution, corporations are not people.

After these selfsame gas companies were forced to pay a local Western Pennsylvania family a settlement of $750,000 for health problems caused by nearby drilling, local reporters and researchers naturally wanted to know what those problems were. Yet despite their best efforts to keep it a secret, Judge O'Dell-Seneca's decisions means the suit's terms of settlement will be opened and the beans will be spilled.

So maybe the movement for a constitutional amendment defining corporations as nonpersons isn't completely in the legal wilderness. Take heart. There is hope! As the court's decisions states, in an almost thunderous  rhetoric:

There are no men or women defendants in the instant case; they are various business entities…legal fictions, existing not by natural birth but by operations of state statutes…Such business entities cannot have been ‘born equally free and independent,’ because they were not born at all. Indeed, the framers of our constitution could not have intended for them to be ‘free and independent,’ because, as the creations of the law, they are always subservient to it.

The various states…allow for business entities to exist but are not required to establish them. In the absence of state law, business entities are nothing. Once created, they become property of the men and women who own them, and, therefore, the constitutional rights that business entities may assert are not coterminous or homogeneous with the rights of human beings.  Were they so, the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principals, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it.

Read more about it here.

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