Are Corporations People? A Clever Court Case in California

Jonathan Frieman of San Rafael, California, has come up with a hysterical and ingenious way of exposing the contradictory logic in American law that gives corporations the same rights as people.  He has been driving in the carpool lane for 10 years now with a stack of corporation papers in the passenger seat hoping to get pulled over.  When he finally got pulled over in October, he argued that corporations are technically people under California law.


He wanted to get pulled over precisely so he could make this argument and take the issue to court.  He has been charged with a minimum $481 fine, and says that he hopes the judge rules against him and makes him pay.  If the judge rules that in this instance, corporations are not people, it will expose the complete folly and injustice of treating corporations as people and giving them protection under the First Amendment.  If the judge rules that, yes, corporations are people, then Californian carpool lanes will cease to function, as anyone with corporation papers in their passenger seats can legally use the lanes.


This wonderfully clever critique of corporate power deserves closer attention.  For too long, people have snickered and rolled their eyes at the thought that corporations are treated as people with rights in America, but legal technicalities left no real room for the public to protest.  Jonathan Frieman is now using legal technicalities to point out that our legal system, as well as our government system, is no longer in the hands of the people but too often panders to and supports corporate power and control over our day to day lives.  The law and the government need to be reclaimed –to work for the people, not against them.



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3 Comments on “Are Corporations People? A Clever Court Case in California”

  1. Andrew January 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    I love this guy. While the probable outcome is that the cop won’t show up for court (as usual), and hence, no actual court debate, the publicity it’s getting is excellent.

  2. utopiandreaming January 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Very true, but fingers crossed that the cop does show and the judge is forced to make a decision.

  3. Perhaps November 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm #

    This is very clever, but does a stack of corporation papers really equal a corporation?

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