Corporate “Citizens”

Anyone who has ever founded a corporation knows that the entity exists only on paper. It’s a legal agreement between the shareholders and the government. Incorporation is designed to encourage the creation of jobs by offering legal protection to the shareholders in the event the corporation defaults on its financial liabilities. That’s it. It’s a legal “veil” of financial protection. Yet the current Supreme Court has disregarded long-established legal precedents to give corporations the same rights as individuals with regard to freedom of speech.

For the Court to make this ruling, it had to re-write the Consitution in two regards. One is that, according to the Court, money is now the equivalent of free speech. Two is that corporations are equal to individual citizens. If protecting a woman’s right to make decisions with respect to her own body is evidence of “activist” justices, what do these rulings represent? Super activism?

But now that conservatives on the Court have created this quagmire, I suggest they take it a step farther.

Why not rule that corporate “citizens” are subject to the same criminal codes as individuals? After all, aren’t conservatives always reminding us that rights must be accompanied by responsibilities?

So if a young male is sentenced to 5-10 years for robbing a convenience store, why shouldn’t the CEO of a corporate giant get at least that many years if that corporation defrauds millions from customers? If an undocumented immigrant is jailed and deported when found working in a meat-packing house, doesn’t it stand to reason that the corporation’s CEO be subject to penalties, including jail time, for hiring that immigrant? If a teenager is imprisoned for vandalizing public property, why shouldn’t BP executives get a prison sentence for causing the Gulf catastrophe?

Wouldn’t it be satisfying to see BP executives (and their government regulators) handcuffed and forced to do a perp walk in front of the national media? And once they’ve been imprisoned, maybe we should put them on a diet of water and seafood from the Gulf.