National Book Award for Nonfiction Finalist National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction Finalist A New York Times Notable Book of the Year A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year A PBS “Now Read This” Book Club Selection Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Economist and the Boston Globe
A landmark exposé and “deeply engaging legal history” of one of the most successful, yet least known, civil rights movements in American history (Washington Post).
In a revelatory work praised as “excellent and timely” (New York Times Book Review, front page), Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight, once again makes sense of our fraught constitutional history in this incisive portrait of how American businesses seized political power, won “equal rights,” and transformed the Constitution to serve big business.
Uncovering the deep roots of Citizens United, he repositions that controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision as the capstone of a centuries-old battle for corporate personhood. “Tackling a topic that ought to be at the heart of political debate” (Economist), Winkler surveys more than four hundred years of diverse casesand the contributions of such legendary legal figures as Daniel Webster, Roger Taney, Lewis Powell, and even Thurgood Marshallto reveal that “the history of corporate rights is replete with ironies” (Wall Street Journal). We the Corporations is an uncompromising work of history to be read for years to come.
Adam Winkler is a professor at UCLA School of Law, where he specializes in American constitutional law. His scholarship has been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New Republic, Atlantic, Slate, and Scotusblog.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Are Corporations People? xiii
Part 1 Corporate Origins
Chapter 1 In the Beginning, America Was a Corporation 3
Part 2 The Birth Of Corporate Rights
Chapter 2 The First Corporate Rights Case 35
Chapter 3 The Corporation's Lawyer 71
Part 3 Property Rights, Not Liberty Rights
Chapter 4 The Conspiracy for Corporate Rights 113
Chapter 5 The Corporate Criminal 161
Chapter 6 Property, Not Politics 191
Part 4 The Rise Of Liberty Rights For Corporations
Chapter 7 Discrete and Insular Corporations 231
Chapter 8 Corporations, Race, and Civil Rights 256
We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights 5 out of 5based on
3 months ago
"We the Corporations" tells the 400-year story of how American corporations came to acquire constitutional rights, such as the right to sue in federal court and the right to spend money on political speech. The writing is clear and colorful, yet does full justice to the technicalities of legal doctrine. Legal cases are put in social and political context. It may be the best book of legal history I have ever read. Every "originalist" should read it to see how judges (whether liberal or conservative) grapple with questions that can't be answered by references to constitutional history or text: basically, judges cherrypick precedents and manipulate legal texts in order to promote their own personal views of sound policy. That lesson in reality makes the book essential reading, one to keep and reread and enjoy. Six stars.
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