Alaska Democrat Sen. Mark Begich gave an interview to the Juneau Empire newspaper. The paper set him up with a question about corporate rights, in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision.
In that Supreme Court decision, a 5-4 majority ruled that closely held corporations have some religious freedoms. Closely held corporations tend to be family owned, or owned by a small group of people. They are not publicly traded. The ruling essentially protects the rights of individuals who happen to own businesses from having to comply with some government mandates that violate their religious freedoms.
Sen. Begich doesn’t see it that way. He told the Empire, “At the rate we’re going, we’ll probably have corporations suit up and go fight wars. They consider corporations people, so my view is if you’re going to consider them people, suit up. Go overseas and fight these wars.”
Begich added that he believes that the Founders “never, you know, to believe corporations would be people would be unheard of. The Founding Fathers looked at individual rights to be people, not some entity created with laws that back then they had no clue would be in the future and how corporations are set up as they are today.”
The word corporation is Latin for “body of people.” Corporations existed long before the time of the American Founding Fathers. The colonial-era Dutch East India Company was a corporation. The definition of a corporation goes back to the 1500’s, and is:
“a group of people authorized by law to act as a legal personality and having its own powers, duties, and liabilities.”
So, the Founders were well aware of what corporations are. Several of the Founders were business owners themselves.