Intergenerational Justice in the United States Constitution,
The Stewardship Doctrine:
III. Constitutional Text

B Prohibitions of Nobility - modern American society

Nobles were also favored in terms of their treatment by the justice system. When people think today about the right to a 'jury of one's peers,' they often forget that a 'peer,' traditionally, was "a member of one of the degrees of nobility in the United Kindom; a duke, marquis, earl, viscount, or baron." f253 The unequal administration of justice was another of the privileges which the anti-nobility amendments were intended to eradicate.

Yet another attribute of nobility which was seen as a cause for concern was the tendency of noble families around the world to identify themselves socially and politically with the larger international community of nobles. This tendency was viewed as a potential threat to national security, f254 a threat which the framers thought to avoid.

In determining then, whether the anti-nobility clauses might have an application in modern American society, we must consider whether arrangements presently exist, or are contemplated, which partake of one or more of these elements: 1) perpetual or hereditary transmission; 2) private ownership and control over common heritage resources (natural resources which were not humanly produced); 3) disproportionate influence in the political process; 4) favoritism in criminal or civil judicial processes; and 5) reduction in national allegiance on the part of the benefitted parties. Ordinarily, the anti-nobility clauses will not invalidate a practice or policy absent a conjunction of several of these elements. Even where the anti-nobility clauses are implicated, the issue will not be of an intergenerational nature, and will not involve the Stewardship Doctrine articulated in this paper, unless the situation involves the first or second of the several listed elements. f255

While an exhaustive examination of current arrangements which raise nobility questions lies beyond the scope of this article, we may safely conclude that some such arrangments exist, and that some of these arrangements have intergenerational dimensions which bring them within the larger Stewardship doctrine.

One category of arrangements which immediately invites examination is that of corporate ownership in natural resources. The perpetual 'life' ascribed to corporations make them, in many ways, the functional equivalents of hereditary noble estates. In many cases, corporations have been granted (or have purchased) vast tracts of land, forests, minerals, and water. f256 The control of these resources - which pre-exist all corporations and were created independent of any corporate or human effort -- may theoretically remain in the corporations for countless human generations, regardless of whether or not the corporations manage those resources in the best long-term interests of the public. The human agents of the corporations are granted special status in judicial proceedings in the form of limited liability. f257 These same corporations are allowed to amass fortunes only rarely obtained by natural persons, and to spend these fortunes through political lobbying and campaign expenditures to insure public policies which favor their own interests. f258 In the case of transnational corporations, the allegiance of these entities to the interests of the United States or any other individual country has increasingly come into question in recent years. f259 Moreover, as the agents of resource extraction corporations have come to assume influential positions in government, f260 government itself has predictably and increasingly relinquished its sovereign powers to international corporate bodies. f261

In short, transnational corporate ownership of natural resources is a category of legal arrangements which includes all of the previously identified elements which made nobility objectionable to the framers. Such arrangements would have been subjected to intense public debate during the framers' day, if they would have been considered at all. f262

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