New legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would put an end to the concept of “Corporate Personhood.” The goal is to undo the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that has allowed corporations to take full control of elections. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: New legislation’s been introduced in the House of Representatives that would put an end to the concept of corporate personhood. The goal is to undo the Citizens United v Supreme Court and the ruling that they made and it’s allowed corporations to absolutely trample, trample on consumers all over this country. Pick it up.

Farron Cousins: Yeah. What we have is representative Jayapal, who has put forward the We The People Amendment that says, you know, to distill it down to its most basic point, we the people means we the human beings, not the corporations. Because the big cornerstone of Citizens United was the Supreme Court saying that corporations are people and money is free speech.

Mike Papantonio: By definition of the Constitution.

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: That’s what the Supreme Court did, which was ridiculous. It’s all, this fight’s been going on corporate America since, you know, since they came up with the notion of an LLC and a corporation has always been fighting to say, treat us like people. Well, if we’re gonna treat ’em like people, well let’s talk about what we should be doing with them. We ought be throwing ’em in prison when they do things like HSBC. You know the story on HSBC, right?

Farron Cousins: Yeah.

Mike Papantonio: They’re washing money for terrorists. American soldiers are being killed with that money, with bombs that are in place. A corporation kills 150 people a day with opioids. Those people should be in prison. But the corporate answer is, well now wait, not so fast. We want to be people. But you can’t put a corporation in prison. No, you can. You find out who made the decision. You put ’em in handcuffs and you put ’em in prison. But we’ve taken this whole Citizens United argument and we’ve turned it on its head. Everybody only thinks about it as it comes to donations. This is where they make the argument, you know, we’re a person. Well, if we’re a person by God, you need to go to prison for your conduct.

Farron Cousins: Well, exactly. And that’s why honestly, as much as I do like this legislation, I think Jayapal should come out with basically the exact opposite legislation as well. And say, listen, okay, if you won’t vote, House of Representatives, because we know they won’t pass this, unfortunately. Say, okay, if you don’t wanna make them, not people, let’s pass legislation saying they’ve got all the rights of American citizens. Basically trap them into voting for that because they won’t pay attention. And then at that point it does open them up for those kinds of prosecutions that need to happen. Because like you said, when you have companies that are out there killing people with cancer over the course of 30, 40, 50 years, killing 150 people a day, putting out other dangerous pharmaceuticals. Somebody needs to go to jail. If any human being in this country killed 150 people a day, they’re gonna be prosecuted.

Mike Papantonio: You know, I saw this for the first time as a very young lawyer. It was just, the argument was just really being propounded then. It was a case that was called Factor VIII. Bayer Corporation had made a blood, it was for hemophiliacs. It was for hemophiliacs, it was made to stop bleeding. Well, the problem is they knew that their product was infected with HIV. They sold it on the American market until we got involved. We stopped the sale of it. Got it off the market. They took that same stuff and sent it all over the world. People in Asia died of AIDS because of it. South America. Do you know how many people went to jail? One person, and that was a French citizen.

Had nothing to do with all the decisions that were made in the United States by these corporate pigs. Not one of ’em went to prison. But their argument was, you know, judge, we’re a corporation. I mean, how do you put a corporation in prison? All you do is follow, you just follow the memos. You follow the letters, you follow the conduct and you say you look like the guy who won. You’re going to prison. Because look at how many people they killed with that product. Sad, sad story. But we see it again and again and we hear the same argument again and again.

Farron Cousins: Well, yeah. You know, we’re not actual, we’re only people, we’re only, you know, having our personhood when it benefits us.

Mike Papantonio: And we have free, and money is free speech. That’s their argument.

Farron Cousins: Right. And I can’t, I still am in shock over that argument in general just because money cannot equate to free speech because at that point you’re saying some people have more free speech than others.

Mike Papantonio: That’s right.

Farron Cousins: You know, there’s an equal issue there. So that alone should have gotten this case tossed before it even made it.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. That’s a very smart analysis.

Farron Cousins: Well, thank you.

Mike Papantonio: If money is free speech, then the people with all the money, they have more free speech.

Farron Cousins: Exactly.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.