We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights

Liveright: Norton. Feb. 2018. 496p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780871407122. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871403841. LAW
OrangeReviewStarAre corporations "persons?" Do they have rights akin to humans? Is this question absurd? If you answered the first two questions in the affirmative, you are correct, at least according to U.S. Supreme Court rulings culminating in the relatively recent (2010)—and highly controversial—Citizens United case. And if you answered yes to the third question, you would not be alone. Prominent legal scholars and jurists, most notably Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her vehement dissent, take issue with the notion that corporations should be on equal footing with actual people when it comes to the extension of rights. In this fascinating study, UCLA law professor Winkler (Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right To Bear Arms in America) illuminates the evolution of this peculiar idea. Accordingly, he explicates the history of corporations and jurisprudence and explores how capitalism and civil rights have shaped judicial thinking. Moreover, he identifies prominent players, such as Daniel Webster, Roger Taney, Lewis Powell, and Thurgood Marshall.
VERDICT Eminently readable and entertaining, this work is highly recommended for fans of Corporations and American Democracy, edited by Naomi R. Lamoreaux and William J. Novak.
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