Industry Companies Life

In the USA

As a matter of interpretation of the word "person" in the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. courts have extended certain constitutional protections to corporations. Opponents of corporate personhood seek to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit these rights to those provided by state law and state constitutions.[3][4] The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and that people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively.[5] In this view, treating corporations as "persons" is a convenient legal fiction that allows corporations to sue and to be sued, provides a single entity for easier taxation and regulation, simplifies complex transactions that would otherwise involve, in the case of large corporations, thousands of people, and that protects the individual rights of the shareholders as well as the right of association. Generally, corporations are not able to claim constitutional protections that would not otherwise be available to persons acting as a group. For example, the Supreme Court has not recognized a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for a corporation, since that right can be exercised only on an individual basis. In United States v. Sourapas and Crest Beverage Company, "[a]ppellants [suggested] that the use of the word "taxpayer" several times in the regulations requires that the fifth-amendment self-incrimination warning be given to a corporation." The Court did not agree.[6] During the colonial era, British corporations were chartered by the crown to do business in North America. This practice continued in the early United States. They were often granted monopolies as part of the chartering process. For example, the controversial Bank Bill of 1791 chartered a 20 year corporate monopoly for the First Bank of the United States. Although the Federal government has from time to time chartered corporations, the general chartering of corporations has been left to the states. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, corporations began to be chartered in greater numbers by the states, under general laws allowing for incorporation at the initiative of citizens, rather than through specific acts of the legislature. The degree of permissible government interference in corporate affairs was controversial from the earliest days of the nation. In 1790, John Marshall, a private attorney and a veteran of the Continental Army, represented the board of the College of William and Mary, in litigation that required him to defend that corporation's right to reorganize itself and in the process remove professors, The Rev John Bracken v. The Visitors of Wm & Mary College (7 Va. 573; 1790 Supreme Court of Virginia). The Supreme Court of Virginia ruled that the original crown charter provided the authority for the corporation's Board of Visitors to make changes including the reorganization. As the 19th century matured, manufacturing in the U.S. became more complex as the Industrial Revolution generated new inventions and business processes. The favored form for large businesses became the corporation because the corporation provided a mechanism to raise the large amounts of investment capital large business required, especially for capital intensive yet risky projects such as railroads. The Civil War accelerated the growth of manufacturing and the power of the men who owned the large corporations. Businessmen such as Mark Hanna, sugar trust magnate Henry O. Havemeyer, banker J. P. Morgan, steel makers Charles M. Schwab and Andrew Carnegie, and railroad owners Cornelius Vanderbilt and Jay Gould created corporations that influenced legislation at the local, state, and federal levels as they built businesses that spanned multiple states and communities. After the adoption of the 14th Amendment in 1868, there was some question as to whether the Amendment applied to other than freed slaves, and whether its protections could be invoked by corporations and other organizations of persons. The primary purpose of the 14th Amendment was to protect freed slaves.[citation needed] Judge Samuel F. Miller, who would later sit in the Santa Clara Railroad case (see below), had considered the purpose of the Amendment in 1872, only six years after the Amendment had become law, when the court was "called upon for the first time to give construction to these articles." In the Slaughterhouse Cases (83 U.S. 36 (1872)), Miller delivered the majority opinion and discussed the Thirteenth Amendment and the Fifteenth Amendment as well as the Fourteenth as follows: The most cursory glance at these articles discloses a unity of purpose, when taken in connection with the history of the times, which cannot fail to have an important bearing on any question of doubt concerning their true meaning. Nor can such doubts, when any reasonably exist, be safely and rationally solved without a reference to that history, for in it is found the occasion and the necessity for recurring again to the great source of power in this country, the people of the States, for additional guarantees of human rights, additional powers to the Federal government; additional restraints upon those of the States. Fortunately, that history is fresh within the memory of us all, and its leading features, as they bear upon the matter before us, free from doubt. We repeat, then, in the light of this recapitulation of events, almost too recent to be called history, but which are familiar to us all, and on the most casual examination of the language of these amendments, no one can fail to be impressed with the one pervading purpose found in them all, lying at the foundation of each, and without which none of them would have been even suggested; we mean the freedom of the slave race, the security and firm establishment of that freedom, and the protection of the newly made freeman and citizen from the oppressions of those who had formerly exercised unlimited dominion over him.[9] John A. Bingham, the member of Congress who is known to have been chiefly responsible for the language of Section One when it was drafted by the Joint Committee in 1866, had, during the previous decade and as early as 1856-1859, employed not one but all three of the same clauses and concepts he later used in Section One. Bingham employed these guarantees specifically and in a context which suggested that free Negroes and mulattoes unquestionably were the persons to which he then referred.[citation needed] Beginning in the 1870s, however, corporate lawyers, following the reasoning of the Dartmouth College case and other precedents (see below, Case law in the United States), argued that corporations could exercise the rights of their shareholders and that these shareholders were entitled to some of the legal protections against arbitrary state action. Their cause was strengthened by the adoption of general incorporation statutes in the states in the late 19th century, most notably in New Jersey and Delaware, which allowed anyone to form corporations without any particular government grant or authorization, and thus without the government-granted monopolies that had been common in charters granted by the Crown or by acts of the legislature. See Delaware General Corporation Law. In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886), the Supreme Court held, ipse dixit, that it considered the Fourteenth Amendment applicable to corporations. Since then the Court has repeatedly reaffirmed this protection.

Industry Companies Life