Are Corporations Persons?

Corporations have been afforded the rights of personhood, but they are not persons!!

 

BACKGROUND

A couple of quick definitions before we proceed.  The definition of a corporation is that of “a group of people authorized by law to act as a legal personality and having its own powers, duties, and liabilities.” A person is defined as “a human being as distinguished from an animal or a thing.”  And the definition of personhood is “the condition of being a person who is an individual with inalienable rights, esp under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”

The 14th Amendment to the US Constitution was adopted in 1868 with it’s main portions being the Citizenship Clause, Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause.  The US Supreme Court, as a matter of interpretation of the word ‘person’ in the 14th Amendment, have extended certain constitutional protections to corporations.

We’ve been hearing in the political arena, as of late, that corporations are people.  The purpose of this article is not to belabor this point nor get into the politics of such.

What has brought about my writing this is because of a situation that I’m currently dealing with a lender.

 

THE SITUATION

We were moving along smoothly to closing on a property until it was noted that their was a lawsuit in the community that had to be addressed.  I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but the short version is this.  The lender, Sun Trust, was given all the documents from the public records on a Tuesday evening.  OK, so let’s say they had it on their desks by the latest of Wednesday morning.  Usually, a determination is made within 24 to 48 hours, so we would think that we’d have an answer by Thursday or at latest that Friday.  Yes, that was Good Friday, so many probably took off for a long weekend as it was a holiday for many.  Yet, here we are on Monday, late morning, and yet response.  Even the manager of underwriting has been unable to get a response from the legal department that is to hand down the determination.

So what’s happening now is that we have buyers & sellers full of angst as well as their real estate agents and mortgage broker.  The sellers wish to close on their property so they can move on.  My buyers are stuck in limbo as they are in a situation in which they have to be out of their current home, have to find a place for their possessions and well as someplace for themselves to go in the interim.  The other agent and myself are not concerned as much about the payday, for we believe that will happen eventually, but the fact that our clients are being put through the so-called wringer.

 

COMPASSION

Compassion is a human quality defined as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

I have so much compassion for the buyers and wish there was more I could do to ease their plight.

But let’s go back to corporations, and more specifically For Profit Corporations.  They have a goal and that is obviously profits for their shareholders.  That is fine and they look for ways to maximize these profits.  More profits; more dividends; happier shareholders; and, hopefully higher stock price.  But what we have seen in the recent decades takes this to another level and that is of corporate greed!

We hear about these mega bonuses and payouts specifically in the financial sector from corporations that we have had to bail out.  We all have heard the quote from Gordon Gekko in the late 80’s movie Wall Street in which he intoned that ‘greed it good.’

Another definition is needed.  Greed is the “excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.”  Where there is greed, there can be no compassion.  I don’t see how the two can exist on the same plane.

 

SOCIAL GOOD

As of late, we are hearing more and more about corporations that are not only delivering profits, but also social good.  This is a new breed of corporation in which social impact is measured in equal terms to net income.  We are seeing more that want to do ‘well’ by doing ‘good.’

What would be lovely to see is a little humility in the corporate world and a realignment of priorities.  Maybe this is a little pollyannaish, but….

 

Until next time….Marc It Sold!!

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