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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.
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.
On January 20, 2012, CAC published Reversing Citizens United: Lessons from the Sixteenth Amendment. Released to coincide with the two-year anniversary of Citizens United, this Issue Brief tells the story of the how progressives in the early 20th Century amended the Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court’s 1895 decision in Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust, a 5-4 ruling that struck down a federal income tax law and, much like Citizens United, departed from first constitutional principles and a long line of precedents. In telling the story of how the people took the Constitution back from the Lochner-era Supreme Court, the Issue Brief offers critical lessons for modern progressives fighting to reverse Citizens United.
On June 28, 2011, CAC released an issue brief highlighting two themes that join together some of the Court’s most important and most sharply divided business cases of the October 2010 Term. The first theme concerns corporate accountability. The second theme involves corporate speech. The final section of this Issue Brief updates Constitutional Accountability Center’s empirical analysis of the trends in the success rate of the Chamber of Commerce before the Court over the past 30 years to include this Term’s decisions.
In December 2010, CAC released an empirical study examining the success of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before the Supreme Court during the last 11 years of the tenure of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
In October 2010, CAC released a study to answer a question raised by, among others, Justice Stephen Breyer, about whether the success of the Chamber of Commerce in Supreme Court cases is a new development. We decided to compare the success of the Chamber in the Roberts Court to its success in the five Terms before Justice Scalia joined the Court in 1986, a comparable period of stable Court membership that was bookended by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor joining the Court in 1981.