Chapter ThreeIf Corporations Are NotPeople, What Are They?

Metaphor… is the peculiarity of a language, the object of which is to tell everything and conceal everything, to abound in figures. Metaphor is an enigma which offers itself as a refuge to a robber who plots a blow, to a prisoner who plans an escape.

—Victor Hugo, Les Miserables1

What is a corporation? One might expect to find a good description of of a corporation in Citizens United or the other corporate rights cases, but the Supreme Court is strangely silent on that point. Instead, corporate rights decisions from the Court come packaged in metaphorical clouds. It is not corporations attacking our laws; it is “speakers” and “advocates of ideas,” “voices” and “persons,” and variations ...

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