Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy

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= POCLAD, the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy: The group describes itself as “a group of 11 people instigating democratic conversations and actions that contest the authority of corporations to govern.


David Bollier:

"Our analysis evolves through historical and legal research, writing, public speaking, and working with organizations to develop new strategies that assert people's rights over property interests.”

One of POCLAD's primary concerns has been “Corporate Personhood,” a topic that was long treated as a fringe activist concern. Corporate personhood had its roots in an 1819 U.S. Supreme Court case, Dartmouth College v. Woodward, which declared that corporations are creatures of private contract law, not public law. It was later given a boost with a controversial headnote in an 1886 case, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad case, which declared that corporations are “persons” in the constitutional sense, thus preventing government from regulating their rates.

After simmering in the background of law and politics for decades, corporate personhood suddenly became a hot issue in 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by 5-4 in the Citizens United case that corporations have First Amendment free speech rights, just like natural persons. By this reasoning, corporations are constitutionally entitled to make unlimited campaign contributions to political candidates, the Roberts Court held. Now there are spirited campaigns to amend the U.S. Constitution to roll back this latest expansion of corporate power." (

More Information

  1. Personhood of Corporations
  2. Outlawing the For-Profit Corporate Form