cover image Corporations Are People Too (and They Should Act Like It)

Corporations Are People Too (and They Should Act Like It)

Kent Greenfield. Yale Univ, $28 (296p) ISBN 978-0-300-21147-4

In this dense but worthy analysis, law professor and media commentator Greenfield prescribes a new paradigm for applying constitutional law to corporations, which rejects both the left’s movement to strip corporations’ constitutional protections and the right’s aversion to more rigorous governmental regulation of their activities. In short: if individual citizens can be both protected and regulated by the Constitution, why should corporations, said to have personhood too, have the protections without obligation? Greenfield’s analysis is novel and includes a discussion of controversial Supreme Court decisions related to corporate rights, specifically Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which concerned the religious rights of corporate shareholders, and Citizens United v. FEC, which applied the First Amendment to corporate political contributions. Greenfield argues that the current legal framework applied to corporate governance meaningfully threatens democracy because it “devalues the contributions of most Americans” and limits their political influence. He proposes abandoning corporate governance theories in which only shareholders’ economic gain matters and including other entities, such as employees and the communities in which corporations operate, in the group of stakeholders whose interests need to be considered in corporate decision-making. Some readers may find Greenfield’s proposals radical, but his attempt to balance the economic well-being of corporations and the interests of society at large is worth reading. (Oct.)