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Can we define personhood?

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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:33 AM
Original message
Can we define personhood?
I think we need a Constitutional amendment to thwart the Supreme Court stance inflicting corporations with rights of personhood. We also need one that would be an embarrassment to Republicans not to pass -- sad as that is.

Would defining personhood do it?

Persons as being naturally born, naturally desiring to live, naturally given to die, actively expressing concern for offspring of their own or others, and all those they see as like them.

I'm just thinking out loud, or whatever the typing equivalent would be called, and now I'm mucking it up with additions. Argh!

It needs to be simple. It could include porpoises for that matter if they could express themselves enough -- but, that is not necessary.

Any more ideas?
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secondwind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. no, we can't because the Supreme Court already did that for the American people.




:grr:
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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 06:47 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. So, let's fight back with our own definition. We are the people. /nt
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reformist Donating Member (93 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:38 AM
Response to Reply #1
6. In a 5/4 decision.
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 09:38 AM by reformist
To Scalia et al.: I don't care how right you might think you are - trying to overturn a century of campaign-finance law with a 5/4 vote is plain stupid. If and when Obama changes the balance of the court, a challenge will be filed, and they'll just reverse the decision.
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kirby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:30 AM
Response to Original message
3. Don't forget the fertilized eggs...
The anti-choice crowd will be sure to lobby for that inclusion.
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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:27 AM
Response to Reply #3
11. Yes, that would be interesting. Something in the expression though.
"Expression" might bring in chimps and porpoises, eliminate fetuses, but pre-born would be contentious, though doable. Not even the doctor recently killed would do abortions beyond a certain date unless there were other compelling circumstances.

"Overt expression" would eliminate babies and animals.

"Accomplished expression" might eliminate people under legal age. (ASIDE: by me, if a 16 yo asks for the right to vote, it should be given, or at least there should be a test to pass for the right to be granted. They can go to war, they should have the right to vote.)

I don't think it should be a deal ender.
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:33 AM
Response to Original message
4. Any such move would inevitably turn into an argument about abortion
i.e. a train wreck.
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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:29 AM
Response to Reply #4
13. Think that can be handled. /nt
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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
5. To be a person you must have unique DNA
or have the same as an identical sibling.
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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #5
12. Interesting. I think it will need good words. /nt
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Hosnon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 09:48 AM
Response to Original message
7. Legally, the only responsibility of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders.
Therefore, corporations must use their freedom of speech to make money for their shareholders, and are likely prohibited from using it for anything that would not make money for their shareholders.

Thus the problem: humans may be greedy, materialistic, and driven by money, but not to the degree that corporations are. They do not have the inherent checks and balances that humans have (e.g., empathy) and therefore cannot be trusted with full rights.
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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:34 AM
Response to Reply #7
14. Yes, humans have a natural expiration, corporations do not.
Thus, the definition should include the idea that an unnatural "person" does not and should not share the rights of people who can and know they can expire.

You've hit upon the crux of the reason we don't like this ruling. Corporations do not fear doing things that would kill themselves. We do. We don't want such "people" deciding our fates.
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Hosnon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. I think we should tread lightly though. I think we can all agree that, as DUers, we appreciate
Edited on Mon Jan-25-10 01:25 PM by Hosnon
that this website and its contents are protected by the IVth Amendment. Furthermore, I wouldn't want the government to be able to deprive DU of its property (e.g., its servers) without due process.

I think the problem is that money does equal speech in the sense that the person with the greater ability to disseminate his or her message has, for all practical purposes, more freedom of speech than those with a lesser ability to do so. I don't want to stop a corporation from taking a position on something but I don't think they should be able to use their economic advantage to marginalize the expressions of humans, primarily because they only care about one thing: money. We care about many things, only one of which is money.

The voice in the back of my head is telling me that it centers around the fact that corporations do not have the right to vote (i.e., they are not participating members of our democracy). Of course, the corporatist response will probably be that we should just give them the right to vote then!

At bottom, I think that each right has a corresponding responsibility. And most of our rights depend upon characteristics intrinsic to human beings that make it natural for us to live up to those responsibilities (for the most part). Corporations must either be required to be responsible for more than money or have their rights limited down to the scope of their interests.
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reformist Donating Member (93 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 10:30 AM
Response to Original message
8. All we need is a reversal of the previous decision, and
a written opinion in which the Supreme Court just states the obvious - that the notion that corporations are people with rights is ridiculous! A decision that basically trashes Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia and the rest of them for the ideologues they are.
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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:21 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. They might be moving quickly thinking there might be a retirement.
That reversal might happen.
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kentuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:22 AM
Response to Original message
10. Someone we could put in jail if they break the law...
Otherwise, they are not subject to the same laws as the rest of us.
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Festivito Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #10
15. Corprations also do not fear incarceration.
They have no need to fight for the concept of human liberty and it should be understandable why we would not want them to govern those of us who do need to make decisions with that in mind.
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 11:43 AM
Response to Original message
16. It shouldn't be hard to sidestep abortion
The important distinction is between necessary and sufficient conditions for personhood. The goal is less to define what a person is than to make a clear statement of what a person is not. So phrase it in the negative:

"No entity that does not <insert some suitable biological statement> shall be considered a person under the law."

Something along those lines - I'm no constitutional lawyer, nor am I a biologist. But it should be pretty easy to rule out corporations without saying anything definitive about fetuses.
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RedCloud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:54 PM
Response to Original message
18. Don't forget about our sexual accouterments!
Corporations cannot reproduce like humans do!
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Cetacea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-25-10 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
19. Good question.
This ight interest you:

" In 2004, the Ninth Circuit specifically considered whether cetaceans (whales and dolphins) have a right to sue under their own name, under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the National Environmental Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. Although they concluded that the cetaceans did not have a right to sue under those specific laws, they found that there was nothing in the U.S. Constitution that would prohibit them from having standing, and that:

f Congress and the President intended to take the extraordinary step of authorizing animals as well as people and legal entities to sue, they could, and should, have said so plainly.

This holding means that if Congress were to pass a law granting legal standing to non-human animals, such standing would not be unconstitutional."

The problem is that this extends to things, like corporations.
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