The Corporation as a Legal Entity

Topics: Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, United States Constitution, Corporation Pages: 11 (4024 words) Published: February 20, 2008
I- Introduction
A. What is a corporation?
A corporation is a juristic person with a separated legal persona, or individual, from its members. (Corporation, Wikipedia) The law allows a group of natural persons, human beings, to act as a legal person for limited purposes such as lawsuits, property ownerships and contracts. (Juristic person, Wikipedia) A corporation has legal rights and duties just like a natural person. Even though a corporation is considered an individual there are some limitations. (Juristic person, Wikipedia) Corporations cannot marry, vote or hold public office. In the past governments would give corporate charters or licenses so that corporations could exist. (Juristic person, Wikipedia) These corporate charters were limited to a set number of years and could be renewed by a legislature or the corporation in question would simply dissolve at the expiration date. (Our Hidden History of Corporations in the United States) The government closely regulated corporations; the corporation charter could be rapidly revoked for violating the law. Also governments granted shareholders the right to remove directors at will. (Our Hidden History of Corporations in the United States) Now corporations are registered with the state, province, or national government and become regulated by the laws enacted by that government. (Corporation, Wikipedia) Corporations have evolved since the American Revolution to what they are today. B. The 14th Amendment

After the American Civil War, three Amendments, 13th, 14th, and 15th, were passed as part of the Reconstruction Program. (14th Amendment to the US Constitution: Civil Rights) The 13th Amendment of the US constitution states the following: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction… Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." (13th Amendment to the US Constitution) Slaves, especially African Americans, were set free by the 13th Amendment and granted citizenship when the 14th Amendment was passed, it stated the following: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." (14th Amendment to the US Constitution) The 15th Amendment pronounces the following: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." (15th Amendment to the US Constitution) This last amendment granted African Americans and other discriminated groups the right to vote. The purpose of the Reconstruction Amendments was to guarantee equal civil and legal rights to slaves. (14th Amendment to the US Constitution: Civil Rights) In 1886, the Supreme Court Case Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad awarded corporations the same rights as living persons under the 14th Amendment of the constitution. It was stated that "The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section one of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." (US Supreme Court) After the year 1886, there is a dramatic change in how corporations operate.

II- The Corporation before the 14th amendment
First of all, is necessary to make clear that many of the examples and theories provided in this section are related to the situation of Corporations...
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