People For the American Way Foundation

A Jury of One’s (Corporate) Peers

David Oscar Markus’s Southern District of Florida Blog highlights an interesting back-and-forth between Justice Samuel Alito and Carter Phillips, an attorney for the Southern Union Company. The issue had to do with how a judge determines the extent of criminal fines. But since the lawbreaker in this case was a corporation, a telling exchange resulted:

JUSTICE ALITO: Do we assume for purposes of this case that your client, a corporation, has a Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial?

MR. PHILLIPS: I think the language of the Sixth Amendment couldn’t be clearer, that it says in all criminal prosecutions the — the accused is entitled to a jury trial, and all — and you know, Article III, section 2, says in all jury trial — in criminal prosecutions there’s a jury trial. So there is no effort whatsoever to limit the — the individual, or in any way to — the person or persons or entities that are entitled to those rights.

JUSTICE ALITO: What are the peers of the Southern Union Company that would sit on the jury, other railroads?

(Southern Union is a gas company, by the way, and not a railway company)

Justice Alito is one of the five Justices who, in Citizens United, latched on to the concept of corporate personhood to take a wrecking ball to our nation’s democracy. Since then, Americans across the country have repudiated the idea that artificial corporations should have the same First Amendment rights as people to spend money to affect elections.

Perhaps Citizens United was only the start of rewriting the entire Constitution to make it We the Corporations. Perhaps only corporations should be allowed as jurors when another corporation is on trial. And perhaps the Second Amendment was intended to make gun ownership a fundamental corporate right. And perhaps any corporation over the age of 35 should be eligible to be president, as long as it presents its articles of incorporation to show it was born in America. The last thing we need is corporate birthers going after President Exxon.


Birthers, Citizens United v. FEC, corporate personhood, Samuel Alito, Supreme Court