Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Corporations are people, right?

I don't normally make public comments on lawsuits in which I'm involved, but I'm going to make an exception for this one because it's kind of an unusual situation.

See, I'm being sued.  But before we get to that, a little background. 

A few years ago, I started a corporation to be a vehicle for a business I was going to run.  It was a simple process...just file a few documents with the Secretary of State, pay a small fee, and we're off.  I was the only shareholder, investor, officer, employee, and janitor.  After operating for a short time, it became clear that the new business wasn't going to be viable, so I shut it down.

It costs money to keep corporations "alive," because you have to pay annual fees and franchise taxes, and you have to file paperwork every year, and since this business isn't operating anymore, I decided to file the articles of dissolution necessary to end the corporation.

Somehow, the corporation got wind of it, and now it's suing to stop me from killing it.  See, corporations are persons, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, and persons have constitutional rights.  My corporation is arguing that if I file the papers with the Secretary of State that will kill it, the Secretary of State and I will violate its right to life.  My corporation is pleading for its life, quite literally, by seeking the court's protection.

I suspect that my corporation got the gumption to take this otherwise unprecedented step by taking a page from the corporation that owns and runs Hobby Lobby and other stores.  Hobby Lobby has a case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in which it is arguing that the provisions in Obamacare that require it to provide health insurance to its employees and that require that health insurance to cover, among other things, contraception, Hobby Lobby is being denied the right to exercise the corporation's sincerely held religious beliefs.  Among those beliefs is that birth control pills cause abortions by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus.  (Never mind that most birth control pills don't actually work that way; Hobby Lobby isn't required to be factual in its beliefs, just sincere.)

The Supreme Court has long held that corporations have some constitutional rights, as "persons."  More recently, in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court held that corporations have free speech rights and can spend as much money as they would like in order to attempt to influence elections or popular opinion on issues.

Hobby Lobby wants to take that a few steps further and assert its freedom of religion.  After all, the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech are in the same amendment.  Surely a corporation that has one has both, right?

Against that backdrop, we shouldn't be surprised that my corporation wants the right to life.  What is freedom of speech or religion if you don't have the right to life?  At some level, I think my corporation just wants to live out its natural life in peace, thinking as it does and doing as it does, until...well, since corporations aren't tied to natural persons, they theoretically have unlimited lifetimes.  If it's successful at its lawsuit, my corporation will outlast me.  In fact, it will outlast the human race, all life on Earth, even the Sun.  My corporation will be immortal.

I suppose it will be cheaper just to acquiesce and keep paying those fees and filing those forms than to fight a lawsuit I might lose.  So I probably will.

But you know what's really scary?  My corporation might one day read the Second Amendment.  Then we're all in trouble.

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