Monday, October 15, 2012

Naomi Lamoreaux to Speak on Corporations at Columbia Business History Forum

As part of this year's Business History Forum at Columbia University, Naomi Lamoreaux of Yale University will present a talk entitled " 'Corporations Are People Too': The Strange History of Corporations and the Fourteenth Amendment." This session will take place on November 7, 2012, in 107 Warren Hall (115th Street & Amsterdam Avenue). The abstract for the talk states:
In 1886 the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Morrison R. Waite, declared at the start of oral arguments in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of opinion that it does.” This simple statement has generally been taken to be the Court’s definitive position on the legal personhood of corporations, and many writers have cited it as the key precedent for later decisions extending constitutional rights to corporations, including the recent Citizens United case. But other decisions handed down by the Supreme Court around the same time seemed to say just the opposite—that the Fourteenth Amendment did NOT apply to corporations.
Professor Lamoreaux will dissect the tangled history of legal interpretations of corporate "personhood" in the United States.

Questions may be e-mailed to the Forum organizer, Eric Wakin.