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Corporations and the Constitution

Our Constitution never uses the term “corporations,” referring instead to protections for “persons,” “the people,” and “citizens.” Yet in recent years, the Supreme Court has in several areas given corporations more protection than individuals, a trend CAC has tracked through its reports on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Roberts Court. If anything, it should be the opposite, and CAC shows through text and history how the Constitution demands more protection for people than corporations.

For more information, visit CAC's Chamber of Commerce Reports Homepage.

Think Tank

As the Senate considers confirming Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, the American people are entitled to know whether, as the business community is expecting, a Justice Gorsuch would be another reliable vote in favor of corporate America and against the rights and interests of workers, consumers, and other less powerful individuals.

In 2008, the nation was plunged into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, and in response, lawmakers established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Since the CFPB's creation, opponents of financial regulation have sought to weaken its ability to protect the interests of consumers through both legislation and litigation. This White Paper provides background on the CFPB and then explains why the legal arguments against its constitutionality are all without merit.

Conservatives have been engaged in a long-term campaign to promote the agenda of business advocates to restrict individuals’ access to the courts. In Congress, conservatives have repeatedly introduced legislation designed to substantially obstruct individuals’ access to the courts when corporations and other powerful organizations violate their rights. In addition, conservatives have pursued this courthouse door-closing agenda in the federal courts, and, more obscurely but not insignificantly, before committees of the Federal Judicial Conference, which are appointed by the Chief Justice to develop amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. At this juncture, business interests have already moved far along in achieving significant components of their agenda, both through legislation and Congressional lobbying as well as through strategic federal court litigation during the tenure of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and current Chief Justice John Roberts.
Even when Congress tends strongly towards conservative interests guided by business advocates, as it does now in both chambers, progressives can successfully beat back anti-civil justice legislation. They did exactly that during the last budget battle by forcing the exclusion of Chamber-backed language aimed at blocking a pending Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule barring the use of class action bans in arbitration clauses in consumer financial agreements. This issue is even more crucial than ever as we contemplate the future and importance of the U.S. Supreme Court. The purpose of this Special Report is to provide analysis and background that will enable broader understanding of these multi-front court access narrowing efforts, their origins, purposes, provisions, and effects, so as to inform and strengthen advocacy across all these arenas.

In the 225 years since the ratification of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has never held that secular, for-profit corporations are entitled to the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion. As we explain more fully in this issue brief, it should not do so now.