Saturday, January 30, 2010
In a column forthcoming in The Nation, she provides this historical and nonconstitutional perspective:
In 1935 the great legal realist philosopher Felix S. Cohen wrote a wonderfully illuminating article called "Transcendental Nonsense," in which he debunked (at least for that generation) the notion of corporations as persons. Cohen challenged the reasoning of the Court of Appeals of New York when it asked "Where is the corporation?" in a decision about the proper venue for a suit lodged in the State of New York against the Susquehanna Coal Company, a Pennsylvania corporation. "Nobody has ever seen a corporation," Cohen pointed out. "What right have we to believe in corporations if we don't believe in angels? To be sure, some of us have seen corporate funds, corporate transactions, etc. (just as some of us have seen angelic deeds, angelic countenances, etc.). But this does not give us the right...to assume that it travels about from State to State as mortal men travel." Cohen denounced such thinking as essentially "supernatural."
More commentary on the opinion is collected here.