collegestudd saidIt is also evident from the FP's opening that he has not read the Citizens United opinions (and if he has, he doesn't seem to understand them).
It is evident from your remarks that you don't know the long history of treating corporations as citizens, a line of Supreme Court cases stretching back to 1886, in which corporations were deemed to be 'persons' with respect to the 14th amendment, and 1907, in which corporations were denied the right to contribute to political campaigns. The Citizens United decision overruled this because the ban would limit a person's (corporation's) right to free speech.
So of COURSE it's about corporate 'personhood'. If a corporation were not a 'person' under the law, it would have no 1st amendment rights, assuming that the right to contribute to a political campaign is a free speech issue. Most scholars (and I) believe that money does not in fact equal speech.
Before I answer substantively, I'll correct some (not all, otherwise the post would be very lengthy) of the mistakes stated in your post.1)
You stated that it is evident I'm not familiar with "the long history of treating corporations as citizens
." First, there is no "history" of treating corporations as "citizens." There is (and there has been), however, debate about whether corporate entities can or should be treated as persons under the 14th AMT. The words "citizen" and "person" have completely different meanings under the 14th AMT.
The 1886 date you mention presumably refers to the Santa Clara case, which had little, if anything, to do with corporate "personhood" (it was about taxing railroad property). The controversial nature of that case does not hinge on the actual text of the opinion, but rather on a headnote (which is not part of the opinion) where the reporter mentioned that the Supremes agreed that the 14th AMT applies to corporations. The opinion, however, explicitly mentioned that the issue of 14th AMT application to corporations was not being decided.2)
There is no line of Supreme Court cases that includes a decision rendered in 1907 that deals with the issue argued. The 1907 date you give most likely refers to the Tillman Act, which barred corporate finance contributions. (It should be noted that Tillman introduced that piece of legislation because he opposed corporations advocating favorable treatment of blacks and not some greater-good cause revolving around pressumed evils of corporate corruption).
In any event, neither Santa Clara (1886), nor Tillman (1907) have much to do with the issue decided in Citizens United last year. Your response is parroting what the media has made out to be the center of debate, and what the media believes are the key issues of importance, but not what is truly at stake. 3)
You mentioned "the Citizens United decision overruled this because the ban would limit a person's (corporation's) right to free speech." This is also incorrect. The issue raised by the case was whether the federal law under consideration violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. The federal law banned independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions in a candidate's election. The decision did not even consider the issue of direct corporate or union contributions, or whether Congress has the authority to regulate this type of campaign finance legislation. Much less that the independent expenditures or general treasury funds constituted part of a "person" under corporate "personhood."
In this case, the Supremes were confronted with conflicting lines of precedent: a pre-Austin line that forbids restrictions on political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity and a post-Austin line that permits them. No case before Austin had held that Congress could prohibit independent expenditures for political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity. Before Austin Congress had enacted legislation for this purpose, and the Government urged the same proposition. So it's not like Austin had decades of precedent behind it. But there was precedent supporting the notion that the identity of the speaker is not decisive in determining whether speech is protected.
Corporate "personhood" has little to do with that case. Corporations will never get all, or even nearly all, the rights humans get. Corporations don't get many constitutional rights because the Constitution was written for human beings, not businesses or legal constructs, and although corporations get some rights, they don't have all the rights that you enjoy as a human being.
People these days are a bit too lazy to get the information they need straight from the appropriate sources, mostly because it is boring and it takes up time that they can spend watching their favorite show, shopping, discussing what lady gaga wore at some fucking award show, or anticipating the new Britney Spears album amid repeated episodes of epileptic outbursts. So it is understandable that people get the info they get from blogs and other news agencies that try to simplify complex issues in an effort to grab the very short attention span of their readers.
Your understanding of the case and its implications, along with the need for a constitutional amendment, are as limited as the media has allowed your understanding to be. I'm all for debating an issue, but a debate tends to be more fruitful in purpose when the parties understand the issues being debated.
It is very easy for you or anyone to post things you've heard others say about an issue without having digested or understood the information heard. But it takes considerably more time to correct factual misgivings and guide the discussion toward a productive ending (which is why I mentioned that the way the FP started this thread is a good recipe for the types of derailment frequently seen in this site). Unless I read something interesting from someone who obviously knows about the discussion and has read (and understood) the published opinions, I would rather spend my time in more productive endeavors, which are far removed from the confines of this website.