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While most of this week’s news focused on the Massachusetts Senate race, the collapse of health care reform, and President Obama’s proposals for stricter financial regulation, there’s one story that will have much more important and far-reaching consequences. The Supreme Court, in the majority opinion for Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, struck down several important restrictions on election spending by corporations. In doing so, they reaffirmed the doctrine of “corporate personhood,” which essentially holds that a corporation is considered to be a person under the law and is therefore entitled to all of the rights and protections thereof, including those guaranteed by the First Amendment.

There’s a lot that can be written about this (as well as about the fact that US law grants personhood to corporations but not to unborn human beings), but I’d like to start with a question: is the doctrine of corporate personhood acceptable under the modern social teaching of the Catholic Church? Because to me, it seems inimical to the Christian humanism that underlies these teachings, especially as articulated by Popes John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 24, 2010 at 5:21 am

    Are corporations really persons?

    Do corporations think?

    Do corporations grieve when a loved one dies as a result of a lack of adequate health care?

    If a corporation ever committed an unspeakable crime against the American people, could IT be sent to federal prison? (Note the operative word here: “It”)

    Has a corporation ever given its life for its country?

    Has a corporation ever been killed in an accident as the result of a design flaw in the automobile it was driving?

    Has a corporation ever written a novel that inspired millions?

    Has a corporation ever risked its life by climbing a ladder to save a child from a burning house?

    Has a corporation ever won an Oscar? Or an Emmy? Or the Nobel Peace Prize? Or the Pulitzer Prize in Biography?

    Has a corporation ever been shot and killed by someone who was using an illegal and unregistered gun?

    Has a corporation ever paused to reflect upon the simple beauty of an autumn sunset or a brilliant winter moon rising on the horizon?

    If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a noise if there are no corporations there to hear it?

    Should corporations kiss on the first date?

    Our lives – yours and mine – have more worth than any corporation. To say that the Supreme Court made a awful decision on Thursday is an understatement. Not only is it an obscene ruling – it’s an insult to our humanity.


    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

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