Geoffrey Stone Delivers Speech at the Center on Law and Finance's Corporate Summit

Corporations Are Not “We the People”

There is nothing in the text of the Constitution that explicitly recognizes corporations or grants them individual rights. Nor do the records of the Constitutional Convention provide any hint that the Founders ever thought about whether the Constitution was meant to extend its protections to corporations. 

Moreover, everyone knew when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868 that its guarantees were designed primarily to secure the rights of the newly freed slaves, not to protect the rights of corporations. Indeed, at the time no one would have imagined that that would someday be the case. 

Although the Supreme Court in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries began recognizing the property rights of corporations in cases like Lochner v. New York, it emphatically rejected arguments that corporations had other rights protected by the Constitution. 

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Constitutional democracy