In order to truly understand the concept of Corporate Personhood one must first give up the uninformed and ignorant notion that it began with the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, and that it only applies to campaign spending. In fact, the concept of corporate personhood was decided and confirmed by the Supreme Court many times and for many reasons over the last two centuries.
The central issue in dispute is the degree of power a government can exercise over a corporate entity and goes all the way back to 1790 where the Supreme Court of Virginia first limited the authority of government to interfere in the internal workings of William & Mary College. The Rev John Bracken v. The Visitors of Wm & Mary College (7 Va. 573; 1790 Supreme Court of Virginia)
The first case the Supreme Court of the United States decided was Dartmouth College v Woodward in 1819 where it ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals to enter into contracts. It was, defacto, the beginning of "corporate personhood". If a corporation cannot enter into a contract, how are they supposed to exist?
The rights of corporations were affirmed again and again - in Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts v. Town of Pawlet, (1823) and Munn v. Illinois (94 U.S. 113 (1876))
Then in 1886, the Court gave 14th Amendment protections to corporations in the Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad Company decision. The case involved taxation and equal protection, and though the words "corporate personhood" weren't actually used, the Court affirmed that the wording of the 14th Amendment did not exclude corporations from "equal protection".
Additional Court cases have been decided over the years as well - ALL affirming that corporations WERE to be treated as "persons" under the law.
So without the equal protection to corporations afforded by the Supreme Court REPEATEDLY over the last 200 years, what could change? Government involvement in corporate matters. Legalizing discrimination about where corporations may locate or operate. Limitation of their ability to enter into contracts. Elimination of due process -- allowing government to shut down corporations on a whim. Unfair taxation, limitation of their rights to free speech - yes, even involvement of the Government in RELIGIOUS corporations. Eliminating these protections to corporations could result in the collapse of our economy as we know it.
Imagine if the government were permitted to close down a corporation on a mere suspicion that one of their products is unsafe, or on an anonymous tip that there was wrong-doing in management. Imagine stripping away rights which allow business to stay in business. Imagine a world where corporations were given no rights to defend themselves in court.
The following article tells you exactly what could change if corporations didn't have "personhood". And I can tell you that, although the author feels it would be a GOOD thing, I think it's a very slippery slope toward abolition of all corporate entities. From the article:
Without the protection of the 14th Amendment, corporations could be purposefully discriminated against in legislation. It would even become possible to discriminate against particular types and sizes of corporations...Without personhood the due process used for corporations could be different than the due process used for individuals or unincorporated businesses http://www.iiipublishing.com/afd/changes.htm
I don't agree with the author's conclusions in the least, but in the interest of fairness, people need to investigate both sides of the argument.
So now lets get down to it - Corporate Personhood is NOT the problem - despite all you people out there screaming it needs to go away. The PROBLEM is Campaign Finance Reform. In Citizens United, the SCOTUS did NOT establish Corporate Personhood, they affirmed decisions going back to 1790. In Citizens United, the SCOTUS ruled that with regard to campaign financing spending (a/k/a free speech), ALL CORPORATIONS MUST BE TREATED EQUALLY. This means that the exception for Media spending which was included in the McCain-Feingold Act (2002) was Unconstitutional - it did not treat all corporations equally.
We have a decision to make - do we ALLOW this unchecked campaign spending to continue? Do we try to structure a different campaign spending law that treats everyone equally? Or do we move forward with the ONLY TRUE OPTION - a Constitutional Amendment that leaves the concept of Corporate Personhood INTACT and addresses the real issue - campaign spending?
I HOPE that you will all do more research and stop with the "Corporate Personhood is EVIL" meme which simply affirms that you have NO IDEA what you are talking about. Address the PROBLEM directly - campaign spending, NOT "corporate personhood"