Humor: If corporations are people, let's nail them for jaywalking

Hold still, Goldman Sachs, while we read you your rights.
Crosscut archive image.

If corporate "persons" could be arrested, perhaps protesters like these at a 2009 Chicago rally outside Goldman Sachs could take it easier.

Hold still, Goldman Sachs, while we read you your rights.

In separate cases earlier this week, federal judges upheld the convictions of MetLife for "prowling" and Goldman Sachs for "loitering." Citing the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that corporations are persons, both judges affirmed that corporations can be convicted of petty crimes.

It Atlanta, MetLife was arrested and convicted of "prowling" after citizens complained of harassment, coercion, and prevarication by life insurance salesmen. Georgia law defines prowling as "being in a place, at a time, or in a manner not usual for law-abiding individuals under circumstances that warrant alarm for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity."

"That is precisely how we, in the life insurance business, define sales," MetLife claimed in their defense. However, the judge in the case ruled no law-abiding person would be peddling such dreck as MetLife insurance products, and furthermore, the sale of such policies "warrant alarm for the safety of persons or property in the vicinity."

Six months ago, Chicago police arrested Goldman Sachs for loitering after nearby businesses complained that the Goldman presence was scaring customers and giving their neighborhood a bad reputation. "With Goldman partners on the loose, people fear being duped, scammed and front runned," one neighbor protested.

Chicago law, originally designed to fight gangs, defines loitering as "remaining in any one place under circumstances that would warrant a reasonable person to believe that the purpose or effect of that behavior is to enable a criminal street gang to establish control over identifiable areas, to intimidate others from entering those areas, or to conceal illegal activities."

In trial court, Goldman was held to be a criminal gang attempting to establish control over the supplementary liquidity provider (SLP) program and the trading markets for various derivatives, and intimidating other trading firms from entering these areas.

Goldman has appealed the decision claiming that establishing control over identifiable areas and intimidating entry are "indispensable, necessary and traditional practices for market makers in the securities business."

Met Life also appealed. However, if these rulings affirmed by higher courts, "the corporations are persons" theory could lead to corporations being called for jury duty, drafted in wartime, deported and cited for jaywalking.

In related news, the Vatican announced that, being persons, all corporations were incorporated with original sin.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors