In this legal history, Winkler shows corporations as integral to the foundation of the United States and traces their steady accumulation of "civil rights" over the last 200 years, with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision just one in a long series of corporate legal victories.
Winkler’s chief contribution is to show how corporations have been some of the most important innovators in American law, shaping it for good and often ill ... Winkler frames this history provocatively, as an ongoing 'civil rights' movement for corporations, which 'have pursued a longstanding, strategic effort to establish and expand' their rights in American constitutional law. He proves his thesis by recounting two dozen critical moments when corporations pushed the limits of existing law and mostly won new rights ... Winkler’s book provides a masterful retrospective map at a time when people are feeling bewildered and enraged by growing corporate power. In essence, he offers an important answer to the question 'How did we get here?'
Winkler’s deeply engaging legal history, authoritative but accessible to non-lawyers, takes readers inside courtrooms, judges’ chambers and corporate offices as he reconstructs 200 years of case law. The book offers new takes on familiar stories ... This meticulous, educational and thoroughly enjoyable retelling of our nation’s past leads to Winkler’s argument: Citizens United, however wrongly reasoned, was not an aberration in American law. Rather, it marked the culmination of a 200-year campaign, waged by well-funded corporate elites, to bend the law in their favor ... We the Corporations leaves no doubt: America has been pro-corporate and elitist from the beginning.
We the Corporations is a must-read for anyone interested in the corporate rights debate. As Winkler notes, Citizens United is one of the Supreme Court’s most controversial decisions. Yet most people who criticize (or praise) the Court’s decision don’t understand the backdrop on which it was based. Winkler advances an important and powerful point: corporations held most of the same rights as natural persons long before Citizens United. Winkler’s account also leaves us with some important issues that warrant further consideration ... Winkler’s thought-provoking tale leaves readers to reflect on what, if anything, should be done about the corporate rights movement ... it will make you think critically about one of the most consequential yet understudied civil rights movements.