The answer to this question depends on the outcome of a traffic court hearing set to take place today in Marin County, California.
When San Rafael resident Jonathan Frieman was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer for driving solo in the high-occupancy lane, Frieman claimed he wasn't alone: sitting in the passenger seat were the incorporation papers of Frieman's non-profit.
If corporations are people, Frieman explained to the officer (who probably has to deal with wackier theories from Bay Area drivers on a weekly basis), then he had two people in the car and was within his rights to use the carpool lane.
Frieman wasn't just trying to avoid a traffic ticket. He wants to upend corporate personhood.
For more than 10 years, Frieman says he had been trying to get pulled over to get ticketed and to take his argument to court — to challenge a judge to determine that corporations and people are not the same. Mission accomplished in October, when he was slapped with a fine – a minimum of $481.
For better or worse, corporate personhood is probably safe, in spite of Frieman's clever rules-lawyering. Having copies of incorporation documents in your passenger seat doesn't amount to riding alongside a corporation, any more than carrying around a coffee mug that has Barack Obama's birth certificate emblazoned on it amounts to hanging out with the president.
Plus, he's been unsuccessfully trying to get a ticket for 10 years? If Frieman is as bad at legal argument as he is at offensive driving, Citizens United will probably stay on the books.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: California, Cars & Vehicles, Citizens United v. FEC, Corporations