Commentary: USA: Endowing businesses with constitutional rights gives them greater protection than natural persons

Author: Katharine Suominen, St. John's University School of Law, Published on: 23 February 2016

“Hobby Lobby v. Burwell: The Dangers of Protecting First Amendment Rights of Corporations and the Rapid Expansion of "Corporate Personhood"”, 17 Feb 2016

…In recent years, the Supreme Court has vastly expanded the constitutional rights of corporations.  In a mere four years (2010-2014), the Supreme Court has given corporations unrestricted political speech rights and then, in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, First Amendment religious freedom rights.  And there is no indication that the court intends to stop, or even slow, the expansion of corporate personhood.  In Hobby Lobby…[t]he Supreme Court concluded that "person" under the [Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)] included corporations…[T]he extension of the RFRA to for profit corporations is bound to have…"untoward effects."  In issuing its decision, the court in Hobby Lobby clearly missed a few key unintended consequences for corporate law…[An] unintended consequence is that the court's reasoning could be extended to grant corporations other constitutional rights, thereby allowing corporations to morph into "super corporations"…with all the essential constitutional rights of the natural person, but with even greater protections than natural persons.  It is therefore essential for the court to return to the artificial entity theory of corporate personhood and limit its expansion of this legal concept.  Unfortunately, given Hobby Lobby it seems unlikely that this is the path the Supreme Court is on.

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Related companies: Hobby Lobby