Another case on the constitutional rights of corporations is heading for the Supreme Court. In its 2010 Citizens United decision, the Court banned limits on political contributions from corporations and labor unions, asserting that such spending constitutes free speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment to all persons. Never mind that corporations can’t talk, write, hold up protest signs or do any of the other things we normally associate with speech. They are nonetheless constitutionally entitled to spend their shareholders’ money to influence elections. But why stop at speech? What about the rest of the Bill of Rights? Sure enough, the Court will next decide whether the Constitution protects a corporation’s religious beliefs, now that the 10th Court of Appeals has applied “the First-Amendment logic of Citizens United” to uphold Hobby Lobby’s right to “religious expression.” Indeed, wrote Justice Harris Hartz, “A corporation exercising religious beliefs is not corrupting anyone.” Religious beliefs? Might Exxon believe in God? Can Google be baptized? We have entered an absurd semantic world, whose dangers are more than linguistic. “If thought can corrupt language,” wrote George Orwell in 1984, “language can also corrupt thought.”
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master – that’s all."
Next up for corporations: the Second Amendment.