Cover image for We the corporations : how American businesses won their civil rights
Title:
We the corporations : how American businesses won their civil rights
Author:
Winkler, Adam, author.
ISBN:
9780871407122
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
xxiv, 471 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Abstract:
"We the Corporations chronicles the astonishing story of one of the most successful yet least well-known 'civil rights movements' in American history. Hardly oppressed like women and minorities, business corporations, too, have fought since the nation's earliest days to gain equal rights under the Constitution, and today have nearly all the same rights as ordinary people. Exposing the historical origins of Citizens United and Hobby Lobby, Adam Winkler explains how those controversial Supreme Court decisions extending free speech and religious liberty to corporations were the capstone of a centuries-long struggle over corporate personhood and constitutional protections for business. Beginning his account in the colonial era, Winkler reveals the profound influence corporations had on the birth of democracy and on the shape of the Constitution itself. Once the Constitution was ratified, corporations quickly sought to gain the rights it guaranteed. The first Supreme Court case on the rights of corporations was decided in 1809, a half-century before the first comparable cases on the rights of African Americans or women. Ever since, corporations have waged a persistent and remarkably fruitful campaign to win an ever-greater share of individual rights. Although corporations never marched on Washington, they employed many of the same strategies of more familiar civil rights struggles: civil disobedience, test cases, and novel legal claims made in a purposeful effort to reshape the law. Indeed, corporations have often been unheralded innovators in constitutional law, and several of the individual rights Americans hold most dear were first secured in lawsuits brought by businesses. Winkler enlivens his narrative with a flair for storytelling and a colorful cast of characters: among others, Daniel Webster, America?s greatest advocate, who argued some of the earliest corporate rights cases on behalf of his business clients; Roger Taney, the reviled Chief Justice, who surprisingly fought to limit protections for corporations?in part to protect slavery; and Roscoe Conkling, a renowned politician who deceived the Supreme Court in a brazen effort to win for corporations the rights added to the Constitution for the freed slaves. Alexander Hamilton, Teddy Roosevelt, Huey Long, Ralph Nader, Louis Brandeis, and even Thurgood Marshall all played starring roles in the story of the corporate rights movement. In this heated political age, nothing can be timelier than Winkler's tour de force, which shows how America's most powerful corporations won our most fundamental rights and turned the Constitution into a weapon to impede the regulation of big business."--Amazon.com

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Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 346.73 WIN Adult NonFiction Book
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Cuba Circulating Library Association 1 POLITICAL & SOCIAL SCIENCE 346.73 WIN Adult NonFiction Book
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Summary

Summary

We the Corporations chronicles the astonishing story of one of the most successful yet least well-known "civil rights movements" in American history. Hardly oppressed like women and minorities, business corporations, too, have fought since the nation's earliest days to gain equal rights under the Constitution--and today have nearly all the same rights as ordinary people.Exposing the historical origins of Citizens United and Hobby Lobby, Adam Winkler explains how those controversial Supreme Court decisions extending free speech and religious liberty to corporations were the capstone of a centuries-long struggle over corporate personhood and constitutional protections for business. Beginning his account in the colonial era, Winkler reveals the profound influence corporations had on the birth of democracy and on the shape of the Constitution itself. Once the Constitution was ratified, corporations quickly sought to gain the rights it guaranteed. The first Supreme Court case on the rights of corporations was decided in 1809, a half-century before the first comparable cases on the rights of African Americans or women. Ever since, corporations have waged a persistent and remarkably fruitful campaign to win an ever-greater share of individual rights.Although corporations never marched on Washington, they employed many of the same strategies of more familiar civil rights struggles: civil disobedience, test cases, and novel legal claims made in a purposeful effort to reshape the law. Indeed, corporations have often been unheralded innovators in constitutional law, and several of the individual rights Americans hold most dear were first secured in lawsuits brought by businesses.Winkler enlivens his narrative with a flair for storytelling and a colorful cast of characters: among others, Daniel Webster, America's greatest advocate, who argued some of the earliest corporate rights cases on behalf of his business clients; Roger Taney, the reviled Chief Justice, who surprisingly fought to limit protections for corporations--in part to protect slavery; and Roscoe Conkling, a renowned politician who deceived the Supreme Court in a brazen effort to win for corporations the rights added to the Constitution for the freed slaves. Alexander Hamilton, Teddy Roosevelt, Huey Long, Ralph Nader, Louis Brandeis, and even Thurgood Marshall all played starring roles in the story of the corporate rights movement.In this heated political age, nothing can be timelier than Winkler's tour de force, which shows how America's most powerful corporations won our most fundamental rights and turned the Constitution into a weapon to impede the regulation of big business.


Author Notes

Adam Winkler is a professor at UCLA School of Law, where he specializes in American constitutional law. His scholarship has been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, Atlantic, Slate, and Scotusblog.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Corporate constitutional rights have become a hot-button topic since the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United (2010) and Hobby Lobby (2014) decisions, and this timely, exciting book clarifies and sheds light on the issues. Constitutional law professor and legal commentator Winkler (Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, 2011) examines the history of the relationship between corporations and the Constitution, providing a field guide to the legal issues and an overview of a long-term corporate civil rights movement that employs techniques familiar from social justice movements. Beginning with the close relationship between corporate governance and the development of democracy in colonial America, he explores how each period in American history saw new battles over corporate constitutional rights and why the courts have generally favored their expansion, and he closes with a discussion of the current legal landscape. Along the way, he presents a wide range of vividly drawn historical figures, bringing their philosophies, tactics, debates, and shenanigans to life while allowing readers to assess the ethics and implications of their work.--Jorgensen, Sara Copyright 2017 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist and law professor Winkler (Gunfight) evenhandedly traces key interactions between the Supreme Court and U.S. corporations to demonstrate how the controversial Citizens United decision was merely "the most recent manifestation of a long, and long overlooked, corporate rights movement." Winkler starts his history in colonial America, showing how corporations such as the Virginia Company and Massachusetts Bay Company shaped American life from the very start. The rest of the book focuses on pivotal Supreme Court decisions, from 1809's Bank of the United States v. Deveaux, over the corporate right to sue, through 2014's Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., over religious rights. Winkler's research is impressively thorough and wide-ranging, including original court records and news coverage as well as other historians' analyses and interpretations. His argument is well supported throughout. Historical personages, from the well-known (Andrew Jackson, Henry Ford) to the more obscure (Roscoe Conkling, Charles Evan Hughes) to the downright surprising (Cecil B. DeMille), make appearances. He somewhat overstuffs the book with facts and backstory, some of which are only tangential to his project, but all are worthy of attention. Winkler employs an evocative, fast-paced storytelling style, making for an entertaining and enlightening book that will likely complicate the views of partisans on both sides of the issue. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Are corporations "persons?" Do they have rights akin to humans? Is this question absurd? If you answered the first two questions in the affirmative, you are correct, at least according to U.S. Supreme Court rulings culminating in the relatively recent (2010)-and highly controversial-Citizens United case. And if you answered yes to the third question, you would not be alone. Prominent legal scholars and jurists, most notably Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her vehement dissent, take issue with the notion that corporations should be on equal footing with actual people when it comes to the extension of rights. In this fascinating study, UCLA law professor Winkler (Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right To Bear Arms in America) illuminates the evolution of this peculiar idea. Accordingly, he explicates the history of corporations and jurisprudence and explores how capitalism and civil rights have shaped judicial thinking. Moreover, he identifies prominent players, such as Daniel Webster, Roger Taney, Lewis Powell, and Thurgood Marshall. VERDICT Eminently readable and entertaining, this work is highly recommended for fans of Corporations and American Democracy, edited by Naomi R. Lamoreaux and William J. Novak. [See Prepub Alert, 8/21/17.]-Lynne Maxwell, West Virginia Univ. Coll. of Law Lib., Morgantown © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Introduction: Are Corporations people?p. xiii
Part 1 Corporate Origins
Chapter 1 In the Beginning, America Was a Corporationp. 3
Part 2 The Birth of Corporate Rights
Chapter 2 The First Corporate Rights Casep. 35
Chapter 3 The Corporation's Lawyerp. 71
Part 3 Property Rights, Not Liberty Rights
Chapter 4 The Conspiracy for Corporate Rightsp. 113
Chapter 5 The Corporate Criminalp. 161
Chapter 6 Property, Not Politicsp. 191
Part 4 The Rise of Liberty Rights for Corporations
Chapter 7 Discrete and Insular Corporationsp. 231
Chapter 8 Corporations, Race, and Civil Rightsp. 256
Chapter 9 The Corporation's Justicep. 279
Chapter 10 The Triumph of Corporate Rightsp. 324
Conclusion: Corporate Rights and Wrongsp. 377
Acknowledgmentsp. 397
Chronology of Corporate Rightsp. 399
Notesp. 405
Creditsp. 445
Indexp. 449

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