Corporate Personhood & Corporate Purpose: A Response to Carly Knight

Corporate Personhood & Corporate Purpose: A Response to Carly Knight

In a recent post, Carly Knight argues that resuscitating the vision of the corporation as a “creation of the state” is an important part of reclaiming the progressive argument for increased corporate accountability. In this response, Dan Rohde suggests that, rather than subscribe to one unified theory of “the corporation,” progressives would be better served by attending to the roles and purposes that the huge variety of legal entities play in our society, and determining their rights, protections, and powers accordingly.

France illuminated at night

Energy Price Shocks and the Failures of Neoliberalism

The global energy price shocks of the past two years have made it painfully clear that energy cannot be treated as an ordinary commodity. They also offer an opportunity to rethink the push to liberalize energy markets over the past forty years, and particularly the use of markets for electricity provisioning.

The Oligarchic Courthouse

The Oligarchic Courthouse

Subject matter jurisdiction isn’t the dry, technical topic you think it is! Two civil procedure scholars argue that jurisdiction battles are central to corporate efforts to slant litigation and enforcement in service of corporate actors.

Trans Emancipation Through Challenging the State

Trans Emancipation Through Challenging the State

With unrelenting devastation, the lives of transgender people are being targeted in prisons, streets, schools, and state capitals. This all-encompassing violence toward trans/queer people is often framed as a product of individual hate and transphobia, a cynical political ploy, or both. And the solution to such violence is often framed as recognition of trans identities by the state. Two new books by leading scholars of gender and political science broaden our understanding of the source of this violence, underscoring the degree to which it represents a defining feature of government and governing more broadly.

How the Corporation Lost Its Image as a “Creature of State”

How the Corporation Lost Its Image as a “Creature of State”

Previously recognized as quasi-public institutions whose shareholders received corporate privileges in exchange for the fulfillment of public goods, corporations are today primarily understood to be private economic actors. This conceptual shift is in some ways quite puzzling. Despite the changing nature of the relationship between states and corporations throughout the 19th century, corporate business entities always, in practice, remained embedded in state and political institutions. How, then, did the image of the corporation as a “creature” or a “creation” of the state come to be replaced with an understanding of the corporation as a “pure creature of the market”?

Democracy Without Law?

Democracy Without Law?

Two different mortal threats to democracy have been on vivid display this past year: Trump’s January 6 insurrection and the Supreme Court’s rampage through statutory and constitutional law. Considering these events on split-screen raises some uncomfortable questions about LPE analysis of democracy, law, and courts. In particular, certain law-is-just-politics views deployed to dismiss the Court seem to foreclose criticism of Trump’s attempted coup as lawless. More generally, for democratic institutions to assert and receive primacy requires some conception of law that does not just dissolve back into “politics.”

The Right to Counsel in a Neoliberal Age

The Right to Counsel in a Neoliberal Age

Over the past forty years, the Supreme Court has increasingly recognized the rights of defendants in criminal proceedings to exert autonomy over their own representation, including dispensing with counsel. Analyzing these developments in Sixth Amendment jurisprudence, this post argues that encoding defendant choice into constitutional rules will likely deepen, rather than mitigate, the structural inequalities at the heart of the criminal legal system.

The Public Reliance on Private Toilets

The Public Reliance on Private Toilets

When most people consider the crisis of American infrastructure, they imagine crumbling roads and bridges, decrepit schools and hospitals, or dysfunctional railways and power grids. This post calls attention to a different, often overlooked component of American infrastructure — public restrooms. Specifically, it argues for a constitutional right to public restroom access, grounded in state constitutional provisions dedicated to public health.

The Political Economy of Journalistic Objectivity

The Political Economy of Journalistic Objectivity

Often lauded as the cornerstone of American journalism, the ideal of journalistic objectivity enshrined in corporate newsrooms primarily serves the bottom line, rather than an informed public. Fixing the industry’s misguided attachment to neutrality thus requires addressing its driving force: the economic incentives of news organizations.

Labour Law and Political Economy

Labour Law and Political Economy

As a field of law, labour law draws it legitimacy from its capacity to impose a stable order on a conflictual relationship of power and exploitation, and to institutionalize such order as one of justice between classes. Because of this function, labour law is and must be open to contestation and change by those affected by it, responsive to pressures not just for internal dogmatic consistency or external economic efficiency but also for human interests and demands for non-commercial social justice.

When Labor Law Protects Corporate Interests Better than Corporate Law Does

When Labor Law Protects Corporate Interests Better than Corporate Law Does

The prevailing joint employer standard requires a showing of greater control than state-based corporate law requires when applying traditional concepts of agency law to parent-subsidiary and franchisor-franchisee relationships. As a result, the current standard leaves millions of workers without meaningful collective bargaining rights because companies that “call the shots” avoid getting called to the bargaining table. Thankfully, this past week, the Board issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that signals the NLRB’s desire to return to a more protective standard.

The Law and Political Economy of Religious Freedom

The Law and Political Economy of Religious Freedom

As recent Supreme Court cases make clear, the libertarian and Christian wings of the conservative legal movement have orchestrated a two-step process to shift the allocation of public resources to private religious power. First, privatize public goods and services. Second, eliminate the distinction between religious and secular in the newly empowered private sphere. Their objective is to replace the New Deal settlement not with a libertarian vision of market freedom, but rather an arrangement in which the market is embedded in a conservative Christian social vision.