I disagree with Citizens United, but it is the now the law until the USSC sees the error of their ways, if ever. I think Mitt Romney put the CU decision in the most understandable light: “Corporations are people, my friend”. I don’t agree. People don’t have articles of incorporation, by-laws, stock shares, etc. Corporations do not have lives of their own.
Corporations are in my opinion entitled to due process under the law, but they do not necessarily have the same rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and property. If so, people should be demanding to be taxed and have the same deductions as corporations.
Corporations are a creation of laws passed by legislatures. They do not have the right to pass property intestate, or by will. They cannot serve time for crimes, nor does it appear that they are, except in the rare exception, prosecuted criminally for crimes. It seems to me that any or all Legislatures could decide that corporations are a bad idea and phase them out along with their protections. Or refuse to let certain people (such as felons or foreigners) form corporations.
Corporations give privileges beyond that of a private citizen. The main privileges being limited liability and capital accumulation and special tax rates and tax deductions for their business purpose. To say that these privileges can never be changed is to deny equal protection and due process to individuals who do not form corporations. If corporations are people before the law on a direct equivalency before the law, then people are corporations before the law. Does that mean that people must register and file papers with the secretary of state? Have board meetings?
The CU decision was naive and silly, and an opinion in search of a case. The idea that corporations are people is generally agreed to have its genesis in a footnote in a USSC opinion, not the text of the constitution.
In a regression analysis, if only Legislatures can authorize the formation and operation and invention of corporations, could they do so for the limited extent to only allow them to raise capital and build and operate sailing ships (or some other business or charitable venture), and not allow a second purpose, such as forming a university, or bookkeeping firm? Yes. But you couldn’t do that to a person. A person could not be prohibited, for example, from being a lawyer, dentist and professional gadfly. Simply put, corporations are not people, my friends. CU stands for the legal proposition that corporations may not be prevented legally from doing anything that a human being has a constitutional right to do. That stands hundreds of years of jurisprudence on its head. It doesn’t mean five justices with an opinion in search of a case cannot write an opinion saying those rights exist, but it doesn’t make it good jurisprudence.