We should have known it would come to this (“Judges deny chimps ‘legal personhood,’ ” Dec. 13).

In 2010, the Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, effectively granted “personhood” to corporations like Walmart, Fox and Google.

And now, some lower court judges in New York have denied chimpanzees the same privilege. In the eyes of the law, corporations are now people, but chimps are not. What is the logic here?

Justice Stevens, in his dissenting opinion in Citizens United, pointed out that corporations, unlike real people who actually walk among us, “have perpetual life, . . . no ability to vote, no morality, no purpose outside of profit-making, and no loyalty.”

Comparing chimps’ qualifications for personhood to those of corporations, we must find the chimps’ claims to be stronger.

Like people, chimps do not live forever, and arguably have a sense of morality and loyalty at least equal to that of corporations.

Who (or which) appears more like a person – a chimp or a corporation?

Do corporations mate and beget offspring?

Do corporations go to the bathroom?

Do corporations look like us?

Do corporations eat and drink and play, or do chimps?

In granting personhood to corporations, the Supreme Court said Walmart and Google are people just like Jack and Judy down the street.

They all have the same rights to virtually unlimited free speech. In an electoral context where money equals free speech, that means corporations can throw virtually unlimited amounts of money into election campaigns.

Jack and Judy and you and me, not so much. Citizens United has thrown a monkey wrench into the bedrock principle of one person, one vote.

I’d share personhood with chimps over corporations any day.

Val C. Hart


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