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Visiting Scholar Adam Winkler, Connell Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law, “Are Corporations People?”

On Tuesday, April 12, at 5PM, TCNJ’s Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa hosted a public lecture by Visiting Scholar Adam Winkler, Connell Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law. This program was co-sponsored by The Dawley Center for Social Justice and The School of Business Center for Innovation and Ethics.  The talk was entitled, “Are Corporations People?” — a profoundly important issue in American constitutional law. Professor Winkler’s book on the same subject, We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights, was a finalist for the National Book Award. After his lecture, Professor Winkler was interviewed by Professor Kevin Michels, Center Director, followed by a question and answer session with the audience.


Are Corporations People?

The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United sent shockwaves through American politics. The Court struck down election spending limits on corporations as a violation of the First Amendment, prompting widespread protests and a movement to amend the Constitution. How did corporations become people, with the same fundamental rights as individuals? Adam Winkler uncovers the history of one of the least known but most successful civil rights movements in American history: the  struggle for corporate rights. For over two centuries, corporations have fought to win Supreme Court rulings extending the protections of the Constitution to them—rights they use to thwart efforts by the public to regulate business and the economy. Winkler will discuss: the concept of legal personhood; the influence of corporations on the founding of America; the debate between Jefferson and Hamilton over corporate power; the innovative role of corporations in the constitutional law; and the future of corporate rights and how they are likely to limit LGBTQ equality.

Adam Winkler is the Connell Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law.  Professor Winkler is a specialist in constitutional law, the Supreme Court, and gun policy. His book We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the ABA Silver Gavel Award, and received the Scribes Book Award. He is also the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, which did not win any awards but was once the subject of a question on Jeopardy!. He is one of the twenty most cited active legal scholars in judicial opinions, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, Atlantic, Slate, and the New Republic. Prior to joining the UCLA faculty, he clerked on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and practiced law in Los Angeles.