Corporate versus human rights

As most readers will already know the NRA has called for a boycott on ConocoPhillips regarding their filing of Federal lawsuit against a state law prohibiting companies from firing employees who keep guns in their locked cars on company property.  In many circles this creates some mixed feelings.  Shouldn’t property owners (the company/stockholders/whoever) have the right to ditictate the conditions for the use of their property?  Good question.  An Yahoo groups email list I subscribe to (WA-CCW) had this posting from a lawyer which shed some new light on the topic:

From: On Behalf Of Glenn Slate
Sent: Friday, August 12, 2005 5:53 PM
Subject: Re: [wa-ccw] Has the NRA gone too far?

So here is my not so professional thought about your questions of
competing rights.  I admit it is a little unusual and unpopular right
now, but I think we all will recognize the correctness of the following
position in time.

The biggest difference here is not property rights vs. RKBA, but human
rights versus corporate rights.  Corporations are formed by the state,
they are given almost all the rights of a person, but they are not a
person.  In a competing rights situation, the corporations rights should
usually loose, as they are granted, rather than guaranteed.

A corporation is formed by an action of the state, in WA that is an act
of the Secretary of State.  WA has a state level preemption, so the
Secretary of State cannot ban CCW.  So how can the secretary of State’s
office create an entity and grant it right that the SoS office does not
itself possess?  That is to say if the Secretary is forbidden by state
law from restricting CCW in WA, how could it create a corporation and
then empower that corporation restrict CCW?

The problem with this issue becomes even more clear when you realize
that corporations need not be owned by individuals.  There is typically
no restriction on a state agency’s owning corporate stock.  So if we
allow corporation to ban CCW, couldn’t the city of Seattle for a
corporation to say  mange all it’s parks and lease the parks to that
corporation.  If they did so, could that corporation ban CCW in parks
under a private property argument?  How about to manage leased  bridges,
roads, parks, sidewalks etc.  Of course 100% of the stock would be owned
by the city, but all action would be taken by the corporation.

So the most basic (and socially disturbing) question is where did the
corporation get it’s personal property rights from?

They were granted by the state.  If the state agency could not restrict
your CCW rights, then it should not be able to grant that authority to a
corporation it formed.
Of course all this is up in the air if that state has no preemption, or
if it has a stature allowing the formation of a corporations with all
the rights of a natural person.  There will be lots of variation state
to state.

This is an entirely untested (and totally unpopular )theory, as our
culture seems to want to build corporations rather than restrict them.
  SO I strongly advice none of you to be a test case using this theory
(or any other is you can help it).

Remember I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer and this is most
definitely not legal advice.

Glenn Slate  |  mail  | 503-445-8030
Corporate Counsel / Vice President of Client Development
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