'We the Corporations' by Adam Winkler

January 24, 2019
Professor Adam Winkler’s We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights

Professor Adam Winkler’s We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights (Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2018) sheds light on one of the most successful yet least known civil rights movements in American history. Like minorities and women, corporations, too, have fought to win equal rights under the Constitution — and today they have nearly all the same rights as ordinary people.

Uncovering the deep historical roots of Citizens United v. FEC, Winkler shows how that controversial 2010 Supreme Court decision was the capstone of a 200-year battle over corporate personhood and constitutional protections for business. Bringing to resounding life the legendary lawyers and justices involved in the corporate rights movement — among them Daniel Webster, Roger Taney, Lewis Powell and even Thurgood Marshall — Winkler’s tour de force exposes how the nation’s most powerful corporations gained our most fundamental rights and turned the Constitution into a bulwark against the regulation of big business.

We the Corporations was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for nonfiction and is nominated for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle’s nonfiction award.

Winkler is also the author of Gun Fight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America (W.W. Norton, 2013).

Praise for the Book

"Winkler's book provides a masterful retrospective map at a time when people are feeling bewildered and enraged by growing corporate power." — New York Times Book Review

"Winkler overlays the pursuit of corporate civil rights onto American history, from the English corporate colonies to the Bank Wars, from trust-busters and New Dealers to Ralph Nader, Robert Bork and Hobby Lobby. [A] meticulous, educational and thoroughly enjoyable retelling of our nation’s past." — Washington Post

"An eye-opening account of how corporations became 'persons' entitled to constitutional rights and used those rights to impede efforts to regulate them in the interests of real people." — David Cole, author of Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law

Adam Winkler: Interviews and Media Links

Adam Winkler is a frequent commentator and guest who has been featured on numerous television and radio programs and podcasts. His essays have been published in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles TimesThe New York Review of BooksThe Atlantic and elsewhere.

Interviews with Winkler include:


All Things Considered

Brennan Center with Dahlia Lithwick

Fresh Air, National Public Radio

Aloud Los Angeles

Chicago Tonight

WNYC: The Brian Lehrer Show

University of Washington: American Constitution Society

See All
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