Prison for Corporations?

Since Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission effectively gave personhood to corporations, some have erroneously argued whether corporations can now run for office. I’ll ask a different question: can corporations be imprisoned for committing fraud, violating laws and plotting treason?

The Business Plot… was a supposed political conspiracy in 1933. Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler claimed that wealthy businessmen were plotting to create a fascist veterans’ organization and use it in a coup d’état to overthrow United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler as leader of that organization. In 1934 Butler testified to the McCormack-Dickstein Congressional committee on these claims. In the opinion of the committee, these allegations were credible. One of the purported plotters, Gerald MacGuire, vehemently denied any such plot. In their report, the Congressional committee stated that it was able to confirm Butler’s statements other than the proposal from MacGuire which it considered more or less confirmed by MacGuire’s European reports. No one was prosecuted.

Could, if something like this was planned or attempted, a corporation, now argued to breathe and bleed just like the rest of us and thus has the freedom of speech we do, be jailed or put to death for treason?

image5151096xIn much the same reason one can not expect to put Superman in jail without his consent, you can’t put something that doesn’t exist in jail, either. Somehow, though, we are to accept that a corporation can have freedom of speech rights, as if the people who work under the umbrella of that corporation don’t already act as representatives of their personal interests which include the interest of their respective employers.

Image source: Ryan McCormick/CBSNews

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