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All Corporations Aren’t Created Equal

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” What about corporations? Apparently, some corporations are more equal than others, or perhaps some are “people” whereas others aren’t. It depends on how an individual corporation’s political twig is bent.

A federal judge recently issued an injunction against a Texas law that barred public funding of clinics that perform abortions. Planned Parenthood is a chief plaintiff in the case, which only makes sense. According to Planned Parenthood’s figures, the federation performed 329,445 abortions in 2010, an increase of 25,135 over 2007 and an average of 902 per day. In all, 56-percent of the unintended pregnancies the organization claims to have prevented in 2010 ended on the abortion table. Planned Parenthood clinics, it would certainly seem, run afoul of the Texas law’s funding restrictions.

However, abortion isn’t the issue for this column. The eight clinics involved in the lawsuit do not perform abortions, at least not on site. The issue is Planned Parenthood’s legal argument against the Texas law. The organization alleges that its free speech has been abridged, and there can be no more perfect example of modern liberalism. Isn’t it the left that decries corporate free speech and personhood?

You might recall the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. When the Court ruled that corporations are legally protected under the First Amendment’s free speech provision the left cut flips. It represented a gross violation of justice to define corporations as “people” capable of exercising free political speech, or free speech in general. Where is that anger now? The left isn’t criticizing Planned Parenthood for asserting its corporate citizenship and free speech rights.

What is Planned Parenthood if not a corporation? Search Planned Parenthood’s websites; you’ll find the federation repeatedly identified as “incorporated.” Articles of incorporation for Planned Parenthood regional affiliates are available online. There’s no questioning Planned Parenthood’s incorporated status, just as there’s no questioning its liberal political alignment. Yet we’re to believe liberals can’t abide the thought of corporations exercising free speech. As is common to liberalism, we have a contradiction.

If this were an isolated incident we might let it slide. But Planned Parenthood isn’t alone. Colleges and universities, among the most liberal of all institutions, incorporate for various purposes. Stanford University formed a corporation to manage its on-campus faculty housing. Harvard University operates a financial investment corporation that manages funds to satisfy research and educational necessities. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and George Soros are all party to numerous corporations. Not one of those people or institutions can be called conservative.

Apparently, liberals don’t view all corporations as created equal. Some corporations are capable of exercising free speech, determining their own expenditures, and behaving in an approved way. But acceptable corporate personhood is based not on equal protection but ideological alignment. Now we’re left with one lingering question: do liberals suffer from “corporaphobia,” or are they just being two-faced?

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