Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Texas Executes Corporations All The Time

A popular trope among a certain set is, "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one."

This is a clever and amusing way to point out that human beings are alive and corporations are not. It also insinuates that conservatives in Texas like to kill people even while they worship at the altar of corporate personhood.

But, in fact, Texas does execute corporations all the time. In this context, however, the death penalty is called "involuntary dissolution." Indeed, among the many bases for a court-ordered involuntary dissolution is when a Texas corporation is convicted of a felony. In other words, a corporation faces the death penalty whenever it (or a "high managerial agent" acting on its behalf) is convicted of a felony.

When a corporation is involuntarily dissolved the capacity it formerly had to prosecute a cause of action is vested in its shareholders. In other words, the corporation vanishes and nothing is left but the human beings who owned it. Human beings that, presumably, Texas can go ahead and execute.


  1. Interesting. I will trot this out the next time I hear someone use the trope. I wonder how often the corporation death penalty is imposed in Texas compared to the human death penalty.

    1. The answer is, very rarely. The state CAN dissolve corporations when they're convicted of a felony, but almost never DOES.

    2. I was wondering that too. I suppose a more careful wording of the concept would be: "I'll believe corporations are people when Texas is as likely to execute one as a real person."


Comments on posts older than 30 days are moderated because almost all of those comments are spam.