Soon after the birth of this nation, American corporations began an incessant struggle for ever more favorable treatment, less regulation, and constitutional protections plainly meant for humans, and not for artificial creatures of the state. For nearly 100 years American courts repeatedly rejected corporate claims for a personhood status that would have freed them from much local, state, and federal regulation.
The tide began to turn after the Civil War, when the Supreme Court of the United States began to look more favorably on claims of corporate personhood advanced by powerful railroad interests. But the Court has never made an official ruling on such claims, and the issue captured little public attention until 2010, with the Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC (Federal Election Commission). This decision also failed to make an official ruling, but made it clear that a 5-4 majority of Justices was prepared to act as if corporations are persons entitled to constitutional protections, and the corporate expenditure of money on political campaigns is merely another form of the free speech protected by the First Amendment.
Americans woke up, found the decision to be dangerous nonsense, and began to express their opposition to the Citizens United ruling. Reverse Citizens United is a citizens’ group formed to study and oppose that ruling.
For a more in depth analysis read The Climate of Corporate Personhood by James and Tomilea Allison.