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This Is How You Prank the Supreme Court Properly: “Actually, Officer, I Have a Corporate Certificate In the Glove Box So the Two Of Us ‘People’ Are Allowed To Drive In the Carpool Lane”

We’d probably look this smug all the time too if we’d been clever enough to think up this prank ourselves.

A hearty congratulations this morning to one Jonathan Frieman of San Rafael, California. We realize it’s only January but as far as we’re concerned this Frieman guy has already won the entire year of 2013 for executing a rather brilliant prank on the textualist wing of the Supreme Court. 

His plan was as simple as it was brilliant: Frieman  just drove around in one of California’s carpool lanes by himself until he eventually was stopped by police for not having an additional person in the car. (Sidenote: Apparently carpool laws are enforced rather loosely in California. It took Frieman over 10 years of driving around like that before he was finally ticketed.)

Once Frieman was finally pulled over, he handed the officer a certificate of incorporation and voila!!  According to the Supreme Court’s own precedent, Frieman suddenly had two “people” in his vehicle. Obviously, the officer still gave him the $481 ticket, so today Frieman is heading to traffic court to argue his case.

While Frieman says he has long opposed the legal community’s treatment of corporations as people, his carpool prank is particularly relevant to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which expanded this construct even further. The Court in that case decided that corporations have the same speech rights as humans under the law, and therefore these corpo-people-hybrid-monsters are allowed to spend as much money as they want to influence elections.  

Just in case this doesn’t sound completely insane to you already, keep in mind that the five justices who signed onto the majority in that case are the exact same guys who constantly accuse their more liberal colleagues of twisting around the meanings of words in order to suit their personal agendas. For instance!!  In Citizens United, the liberal justices twisted around the meaning of “person” to mean “person” and somehow found that the word “speech” means “speech.”  The textualists, on the other hand, simply looked at the plain meaning of these words and decided that  “person” includes “corporations” and “speech” is the same thing as “money.”  Therefore, limiting the amount of cash that, say, Exxon Mobil can spend to influence an election is just as much of a violation of the First Amendment as punishing an actual human being for  writing a disagreeable blog post. 

Well okey-doke then, Supreme Court! In that case, we’ll be slipping Wells Fargo some roofies so we can get ourselves preggers and collect some serious child support. (Technically Wal-Mart brings in more cash than Wells Fargo but we’re a little too classy for that. )

Anyway, assuming the police officer actually shows up at the traffic court today, the judge will be either need to: (a.) rule that, duh, obviously a corporation is not a person so articles of incorporation don’t count as an additional passenger; or (b) stand by the Supreme Court’s definition of a corporation and therefore publish a totally ludicrous decision holding that people can just strap their corporate documents into the front seat of their vehicle in order to ride in the carpool lane.  Either way, hilarity and further appeals are sure to ensue.

 *Here’s a little game we like to call “Fun Times With Supreme Court Synonyms”:  Hey there, corporations!!  Hope you enjoyed the money we just wrote.  If so, could you please do us a favor and use that hard-earned speech of yours to purchase some items from this person we know named “Amazon”?   Every time you purchase something through one of our Amazon links, we earn a little speech that we can put in our bank account.  Thanks!!  

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22 Responses to This Is How You Prank the Supreme Court Properly: “Actually, Officer, I Have a Corporate Certificate In the Glove Box So the Two Of Us ‘People’ Are Allowed To Drive In the Carpool Lane”

  1. lyrpa

    at

    This is what I call poetic injustice!

  2. Barjack

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    Unfortunately, a whole lot of us corporations don't have enough speech to cover the tab for this form of 'Russian roulette.' The cost of a loss ($481) would wrench the tongue right out of my mouth for a considerable length of time. That's a sad fact of life. Most of us would like to stand up to the idiots and make some kind of 'statement,' but can't afford the gamble.

    Shame on you for calling Scalia an asshole! He's a Spaghetti-hole if I ever saw one . . . a pizza-hole??

  3. Bill Marshall

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    Well this guy can either be the "voice" of the corporation or the "voice" of himself but he cannot be both at the same time. A corporation has vested intersts in its community. pays taxes, is regulated and deserves a say in what happens in that comuminity. So if a corp has a million stockholders and a thousand workers and some tree huggers want to use lies to get crazy laws enacted those stockholders are entitled to hire a "voice" to represent their interests. The guy they hire is speaking for them and is payed by them because they are a divided interest and that is practical for a functioning society. That very same "guy" can punch out and spend his off days saying the exact opposite as an indiviual citizen.

    So in this care he can be one or the other but not both at the same time and since the LAW requires two "individuals" to be present at the same time he LOSES and is STILL within the scope of the supreme courts ruling.

    If any of you libs actualy tried to run a business and make somethng of yourselves you would get it.

    • Lindsay S.

      at

      All of these corporations are made up of individuals. ALL OF WHOM have the right to vote. Thus the corporation ALREADY has a voice in the community. Please explain why it needs more?

    • That damn liberal la

      at

      Obviously, you have no clue how corporate personhood works, Bill. I own my LLC. As its sole owner, I get to decide where it is at any given time. It can quite easily be in my car with me (and no papers are required for that presence, either). Maybe you should quit watching Fox News and get yourself a real job. Now that the election's over, you should face the facts: you lost.

    • John Dreher

      at

      I do operate a business, one I built myself, I have made something of myself, I am a "lib" and I do get it. It's because I "get it" that I am a "lib". Someday I hope you will too.

  4. Joey

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    Or, they will argue that the certificate of incorporation is not a person, though the company is.

    If I have a birth certificate in my car, it most definitely is not a person, though it represents a person was born.

    If the court is smart, they would make the same argument that the certificate indicates the company was made, but the company was not in the car.

    Now if he ran the business from his car, he may have an argument.

    • Linda (The Daily Dolt)

      Linda the Dolt

      at

      I have to assume this stunt is somewhat of a joke since there's no real basis for his argument. As you rightly point out, that certificate is no more a corporation than a birth certificate is a human.

      That said, I still think it's a pretty funny prank and an effective way to point out what a crazy decision Citizens United was.

    • What do you mean by ‘he lost the case’. What does he mean? Because there’s only one scenario in which he can lose, all others he wins even if he loses…

      • Tracey

        at

        According to the link OP provided, the court ruled "that corp papers r not persons in that instance, which only weakens the state's case on appeal."

  5. This guy is GENIUS! I hope undoes the perversion of the corporate monsters, who ruined justice, and our laws! May God be with you, Jonathan!

  6. Tracey

    at

    Jonathan Frieman is truly a visionary. He's been selflessly driving in the carpool lane, at no benefit to himself (other than getting where he wants to a lot faster) in order to protest a Supreme Court decision that wouldn't be written until 8 years after he started his protest…

    • Sandy

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      Corporations have been people since 188o-something. Union Railroad v United States. That made corporations people but it had nothing to do with the case it's self so much.

      Citizen's United vs FEC 2010 made Money = Free speech.

      • Linda (The Daily Dolt)

        Linda the Dolt

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        Citizens United did both, actually. It treated money as speech, but it also EXPANDED the existing concept of corporate personhood by applying it to the First Amendment.

  7. Wyn Williams

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    Nice, fun try – but presumably the address he incorporated it under was not his car so all he was doing was riding around with the paper, the judge will just point out the corporation physical entity / location was not in the car with him and he loses the case.

    • Tracey

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      Not according to Frieman's Twitter feed. See comment above.

  8. Preston

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    Why didn't he just try to "talk" his way out of the ticket by slipping the officer a hundred dollar bill?

    • Linda (The Daily Dolt)

      Linda the Dolt

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      You're really starting to get the hang of this money-equals-speech thing.

  9. Lie

    at

    This is silly. That smug corporate certificate isn't wearing a seat belt, Friedman is also guilty of unlawful imprisonment of a corporate certificate inside a glove box.

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