SMNR: Corporations and the Constitution

Course Information

Registration Information

Meeting Times

Day Time Location
THU 2:15 - 4:05 pm JON 6.206

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


This writing seminar will examine the intersection of the law of business organizations with constitutional law (and public law more generally). We will explore the law and history of corporate personhood. How and why did a corporation become a constitutional person? We will consider the meaning of corporate personhood for speech, religious exercise, due process, and equal protection and discuss questions like: Can a corporation have a race or gender? When should organizations have rights under the Constitution? What significance should the corporate form have? We will interrogate contemporary decisions in cases like Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Because business organizations collectively (and sometimes singly) hold immense power over resources, employees, and governmental policies, as we consider corporate rights we will also query whether business organizations should bear responsibilities. Readings will include judicial opinions, scholarly articles, legislation, and regulations. Students will be expected to participate actively in class discussions, to submit brief discussion questions, and to complete and present a research paper on any topic salient to the course.

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights *
Winkler, Adam
Liveright , edition: 1
ISBN: 9781631495441
Corporations and American Democracy *
Lamoreaux, Naomi & Novak, William
Harvard University Press , edition: 1
ISBN: 9780674972285


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