by William Meyers
There are two broad areas that could change if we revoked corporate personhood. One is directly related to corporations not being persons for the purposes of the 1st, 4th, and 14th Amendments. The other is the critically important secondary effect of what can be achieved if we push corporations out of the political process, which can be achieved only if we remove their personhood. Knowing exactly what would or could change has to be based on what changes have been made, or prevented, since the establishment of corporate personhood as a legal principle in 1886.
Fortunately we do have a road map of sorts, a mirror image of this issue. In 1896 the U.S. Supreme Court, in Plessy v. Ferguson, effectively declared that Anegros” were not protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, were not in fact the persons it was meant to protect. In 1956 in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled so that suddenly ANegroes” again became full legal persons. I hope I don't need to describe the plight of African-Americans and other people of color during the period from 1896 to 1956, nor will I recount the campaign necessary to get the court to change its mind in 1956. Were African-Americans (and others classified as non-white) suddenly better off the day after the 1956 ruling? Potentially yes, but factually no. It took years of protests, court cases, legislative changes, changes in people's awareness and semantics, and even many people's murders at the hands of those who opposed change, before African-Americans began to be treated, legally, socially, and economically, as citizens and persons. The process is not yet complete.
When corporate personhood is terminated, whether it be by a Supreme Court decision, an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or by citizens and States recovering the power to govern themselves democratically, the next day it may seem like nothing really has changed. But the potential for change will be as great as it was for people of color after Brown v. Board of Education.