reporter noted in the headnote to the opinion that the Chief Justice beganoral argument by stating, "The court does not wish to hear argument on thequestion whether the provision in theFourteenth Amendmentto theConstitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations.We are all of the opinion that it does."
While the headnote is not part of the Court's opinion and thus not precedent, two years later, in
PembinaConsolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania
- 125 U.S. 181 (1888), theCourt clearly affirmed the doctrine, holding, "Under the designation of 'person' there is no doubt that a private corporation is included [in theFourteenth Amendment]. Such corporations are merely associations of individuals united for a special purpose and permitted to do business under a particular name and have a succession of members without dissolution."
Needed Changes In Local Government
This embarrassing episode of inappropriate action on the part of the current City Council isanother example of why we desperately need changes in the nature of our localgovernment. This sort of Resolution in no way represents the thinking of the people of Palo Alto—any more so than a Resolution condemning the existence of “Corporations” bythis Council would represent the thinking of Palo Altans. This action represents thethinking of only seven (7) elected officials—none of whom ever campaigned onoverturning this, or any Supreme Court decisions. (One can only wonder how many of those voting on this Resolution have ever read all of the documentation associated withCitizens United?)Therefore, the Palo Altans need to be able to easily rescind these kinds of Resolutions— which clearly are “outside the pay grade” of most Council Members. The Residents of Palo Alto need to have some sort of mechanism that allows us to stop these sorts of Council actions before they leave the Council Chambers, and begin to do damage to thereputation of the city of Palo Alto, and its hard working, clear-thinking residents.