THE PEOPLE’S Rights Amendment, as currently drafted, is a misguided attempt to bring about needed reform of the financing of elections ( “ ‘We the People’ can overturn Citizens United,’’ Op-ed, Jan. 21). Such financing reform is desperately needed, but it cannot be attained merely by attacking the personhood of corporations. Since wealthy individuals can distort the funding of elections just as easily as corporations, the electoral reform that is needed is different from and broader in scope than corporate personhood.
Moreover, the Supreme Court initially declared that corporations were persons, not in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in 2010, but in Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company in 1886. Even in the colonies prior to the Revolution, corporations (such as they were then) were regarded as artificial persons. Such entities created by law have been instrumental in the development of modern civilization and include not only large business corporations but a multitude of micro and small businesses and charitable nonprofits.
Thus, the People’s Rights Amendment is not only based on a misunderstanding of the history and law of corporations. It also misses the bigger target of wealth’s disproportionate influence over government.
John L. Hodge