In the third installment of the Spring 2012 Faculty Workshop Series, sponsored by the Frances Lewis Law Center, Professor john a. powell (lower case), formerly of the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University and presently the Director of the Haas Diversity Research Center and Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion at the University of California, Berkeley, came to speak last Monday about his recent paper, Beyond Public/Private: Understanding Excessive Corporate Prerogative.
Professor powell makes the argument, in its simplest form, that the expansion and exercise of corporate power coincides with and makes concomitant disempowerment of people of color. Historically, he observes that the Lochner era, which defined and expanded corporate prerogatives, was the same era as Jim Crow, which narrowed the meaning and reach of civil rights. He asserts that the public/private distinction that has been used to establish many of these prerogatives, is flawed. The paper argues that there are four domains: public, private, non-public/non-private, and corporate. Thus, the exercise of excessive corporate prerogative is not only a threat to the public sphere, but the private sphere and the non-public/non-private as well. Ultimately, Prof. powell argues that we cannot achieve racial justice, economic justice, protection of our environment, or enjoy a strong democracy unless we have a realignment of corporations.
Many thanks to Professor powell for visiting W&L and sharing his paper with the faculty.