Should Unions and Corporations have the Same Constitutional Rights that I do as an Individual?

I had a question posed to me on Facebook about whether or not unions and corporations should have the same inalienable constitutional rights that I do as an individual human being and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. A new video was recently released by www.WhoHasRights.org called “Would you date a corporation?” and it has continued to spark my interest.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the limitations on corporate money in political ads with its decision in the Citizens United case. The Court cited a violation of corporations’ First Amendment rights to free speech. Anyone involved in politics knows that this was a controversial decision, even amidst some conservative circles, although the case was brought by a big hitter in conservative political advocacy. While I stand with Citizens United in their mission to restore a government rightfully controlled by the people, this decision has always rubbed me the wrong way.

As fellow history buffs know, Thomas Jefferson talked about his fear of corporate monopolization regularly referring to “the selfish spirit of commerce, which knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain.” The U.S. Constitution protects free speech as an inalienable right of human beings… not entities like corporations and unions. For me, it is a stretch to say that it is self-evident that artificial entities such as a union or a corporation should have the same constitutional rights that I am granted as a human being. I cannot help but think about how the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written as a charter of, by and for people that basically spells out what form of government we are to be governed by and how that government is to be in order to protect the people’s inalienable rights.

Times have changed since then and I certainly believe that corporations and unions should have rights but, should there be constitutional corporate rights? It seems to me that if we are going to expand upon the meaning of the U.S. Constitution, that the people should have some say in that, not just the courts. Why don’t we put this issue to a vote of the people? Ask them if they want the artificial entities of corporations and unions to have the same inalienable constitutional rights that they have as human beings.

As a free marketer & supporter of individual rights, the fact that corporations and unions now have constitutional rights makes me wonder how much farther we are going to stray from the theory of self-governance espoused by our founders.

How should we define the rights, constitutional or otherwise, of unions and corporations? That’s a conversation that I would like to see happen in this country. Individual human beings are different then entities such as unions and corporations. But, let’s have the conversation about those rights and what, if any, restrictions & regulations the people feel are necessary for those entities. There is a really interesting website that is exploring this topic: www.WhoHasRights.org.  

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