Thursday, May 22, 2014

From "The Semiotics of Law in Legal Education: Signs in Law--A Source Book" (Jan M. Broekman & Larry Catà Backer, eds): On the Semiotics of Sibelius v. Hobby Lobby, Inc.

My colleague, Jan Broekman and I have been working on the third volume of our study of legal semiotics, The Semiotics of Law in Legal Education: Signs in Law--A Source Book (Jan M. Broekman & Larry Catà Backer, eds., Dordrecht, Springer International, forthcoming 2014). Our draft Preface suggests the scope and purpose of the work:
The materials in this book weave together the fabric of semiosis and significs. It does so quite embedded within the cultural imperatives of the civilization that gave these terms meaning and made them an effective tool for the dissection of law, and its reconstitution as an instrument to be used by the lawyer to advance the interests of her clients, and for judges, as a means of restructuring language as a narrative of law whose power could bend behavior to its strictures. Lawyers make meaning, indeed, but they do so like Croesus making meaning of the oracle at Delphi, and recognizing that meaning may re-make the maker. Judges, legislators and administrative regulators make meaning like the oracle, with the innocent conceit of the gods, but like them, unable to escape the destiny they render through the narratives of their lawmaking and decisions. And both realize their meaning making only through the participation of the community through which this meaning making is put in operation.

Beyond that, the object of this book is to provide a longitudinal framework within which one can better approach the development of our consciousness of the problem of meaning and its uncovering. Semiotics did not arise from the mind of a single individual as an act of will already formed and fully developed. There is a semiotic element to semiotics as well, it is to the business of bio-semiotics that this journey from the 19th century origins to the present best suggests. For lawyers the ultimate comfort of semiotics is the premise of a momentary and specific certainty of meaning. For lawyers, that alone is enough of a reason for undertaking its study. For they operate in a self referential world in which meaning itself is the only source of meaning, piled higher and deeper, and sorted to suit the fancy of the state apparatus that tends to it, for the constitution of its own self-reference. Where this is a simple and singular act, the art of semiotics of the last century, is useful. But in a world of singular objects that serve as multiple signs with even more interpretive possibilities, the complications that follow will ensure that the work of the lawyer, to extract a momentary and instrumental use of meaning for an temporal and temporary end, will move meaning and its construction, that is, will move semiosis beyond its 19th and 20th century structures.
Sibelius v. Hobby Lobby, Inc., 723 F. 3d 1114 (10th Cir., 2013) provides one of the most interesting applications of the insights we try to draw in the book.  What follows is the current draft of Chapter 16, that considers Sibelius and the issue of the ensoulment of corporations for the purpose of determining whether it might apply religious rather than political law to its operations.

16. A View On A. J. Greimas’s Essay “The Semiotic Analysis of A Legal Discourse: Commercial Laws That Govern Companies and Groups of Companies”.



Greimas’ essay on Corporations has been path breaking. Today, the semiotic dimensions of the theme are more elaborated, but in his 1967 text, he focuses in an exemplary manner on questions such as: What are the specific properties of legal language? In order to answer that question he withdraws from solely watching what happens in Courtrooms and Law Offices, and thus directs our attention to decisions in the field of economics and business, asking: “ What is a commercial company?”, and “What does the legislator of these groups of companies ‘think’ "? No wonder that his text is first directed at methodological issues when approaching the subject—in time when semiotic research was almost completely unknown. What is needed first of all is a clarification of the concept of a legal discourse. This socially important discourse is a subtext completely or partially containing expressions of a natural language. Second, as discourse, Greimas states, it has to be perceived as a linear manifestation of language comprising a form of organization, which includes, in addition to lexemes, syntagms, utterances, all in all phrastic units, also clearly transphrastic units such as paragraphs, chapters, or fragments of actual discourses. Third, one can concur with Greimas that qualifying a discourse as legal implies either a specific organization or a specific connotation underlying this type of discourse. With this in mind it is then necessary to turn from the development of decisions in the fields of economics and business, to the institutionalization of that within the legal abstraction, the enterprise, and its coupling with that other institutional abstraction that produces and polices the specific meanings, and grammer, of law—the courts.

Discourses and References

Greimas suggests that every legal discourse is produced by a legal grammar, which is distinct from the grammar of the natural language in which this discourse appears. And moreover, a lexical recurrence makes it possible to postulate the existence of an autonomous legal dictionary. In this light, the essay shads light on two important aspects pertaining to the legal context of corporations: there is the legal grammar and related to this grammar, the legal practice to be studied. The two form a complexity at the background of corporation activities, and are thus highlighted in a fascinating manner. Every legal discourse is produced by a legal grammar.

Legal grammar

1) “Legal discourse refers back to a legal grammar and lexicon (grammar and lexicon being the two components of language), so we can say that it is the manifestation in the form of message­ discourses, of a language, of a legal semiotics. This constitutes our initial hypothesis. We postulate that the text to be described is part of a legal semiotics, that it is produced by a grammar and is the manifestation of a specific semantic universe”. Hence the conclusion for Greimas: the legal universe can be articulated as a micro-universe, in which the laws governing commercial companies are included. But he also proceeds to explain, that

2) Legal discourse produces legal grammar attempts to be explicit and ostensibly exhibits the body of its rules. The example for law is a social issue in itself, an important issue that also belongs to political, sociological and related discourses: law not only claims to be known by all, it also appears as a well-made grammar, leaving no room for ambiguity at the level of intentions.

3) Legal grammar concerns in the main an appropriate formation of utterances and units (if … then) and, as Greimas underlines, “ leaves the taxonomy of the fundamental categories implicit, which, as system, produces the grammatical discourse of law”.

The form of grammatical discourse is actually one of the specific criteria of legal semiotics, he adds. “Legal grammar is a constructed grammar and displays itself as such. The initial enunciation of the law of July 24, 1966 ― ‘The President of the Republic promulgates the law with the following content’ is not only the expression of a delegated collective will; as enunciation, it institutes, much in the manner of the divine fiat, the set of legal utterances that will exist only by virtue of this original performative act”.

Legal Practice

“Although the "grammatical objects" of law exist only by virtue of the said, we can see that to name and to define the objects constitute one of the essential aspects of legal practice, understanding by practice the two dimensions of legal activity: the production of law and the verification of the conformity of the utterances on the world with the canonical utterances of legal language”. It fascinates, that the internal structure of legal discourse is implanted as a sort of a “hidden machine” in legal practice, so that this practice is much more than a simple application of principles or norms. Greimas clarifies this in a convincing manner: “In the nature of doing, where by means of functional utterances it is necessary to fix the operational sphere of the semiotic object that is called into existence, the predictable set of behaviors is subjected to the evaluation of a modal grid (…) the inventory of behaviors the legislator is attempting to regulate is part of the more or less explicit referential level and is supposed to cover the totality of the legal universe”.

From those lines, one must conclude that the legal system appears as a performative language, which institutes an order of the world. Human beings and things appear to exist by means of ascribing specific functions to them, delimited by prescriptive and interdictive rules, which are ultimately called legal: legal subjects, and legal facts together with legal issues. This is the “inner machine”, which makes the legal system appear as a solid and immobile architecture whereby law as a specimen of immobility is one of its principal connotations. But we should not forget, that the legal system evolves, accrues, and transforms itself. Law’s dynamics appear to be caused by the constant renewal of legal discourses. The discursive innovations are reflected by their underlying system, Greimas would say. Legal practice is thus a production of law, of new legal rules and significations, as well as a recurring procedure of verification of the validity of the instituted legal language.

Legal discourse, the result of the convergence of a grammar and a lexicon, produces legal utterances defined by their form and by their content, part of the semantic universe that legal language covers. It is important, how Greimas adds: “Only utterances that satisfy stricto sensu the two criteria of grammaticality and semanticity will be recognized as being legal. Indeed, these two criteria seem sufficient to define the two legal practices of the production and the verification of law: legislative practice and jurisprudential practice”.

On the level of semiotics and Greimasian linguistic analysis, the mechanisms of acquiring a practicable legal language, one has to consider that “(…) to transform an a-semantic word, expression, or sentence into a semantic term or utterance, consists in transferring it from the referential level to the legislative level of legal language — the procedures consist in correctly naming "things" and inscribing predictable "events" into the modal grid of prescriptions and interdictions, the legislator's word being sufficient to give a legal existence to what is expressed”.

We can try to summarize these observations and present them by means of the accompanying schematization:


The Religion of Corporations in the United States.

If legal practice is thus a production of law, of new legal rules and significations, as well as a recurring procedure of verification of the validity of the instituted legal language, and if that production requires naming "things" and inscribing predictable "events" into the modal grid of command, incentives, interdictions, requirements, assessments, etc.—then its schematization into nicely autonomous but interconnected oppositions, contradictions and complementarities, provides the pathways within which the actions of the objects of law can be tested against law’s grammar and semantics. This connection, one that drove Greimas initially to a consideration of the business of corporations in an effort to discover their legal essence, is very much in evidence in the efforts undertaken in the United States during the years 2013-14, to induce the state to recognize the legal authority of corporations to embrace a religion, and then to impose that religion on its employees, customers and others (under the protective cover of state power). That ensoulment has as its objectives to convert the juridical person incarnated in corporate form to the religion of its principal shareholders, so that they might form a more perfect community of like-minded religious souls for the conduct of economic affairs and the enhancement of the spiritual well being of their stakeholders. Economic activity, then, is transformed into an expression of the practice of religion, and the normative animus of the enterprise a reflection of that of its “owners.” Yet to do so requires both an act of ensoulment of the corporation and an acquiescence by the state that its law no longer applies to the professing corporation. It is in the efforts by economic enterprises to not merely find their religion, or project that of their owners, but to compel the state to recognize that religion, and by doing so cede a substantial regulatory authority over these abstractions, that the multiple vectors and dynamism of law comes is more fully exposed.

The courts serve as the arena in which these networks are invoked. These serve as the site within which corporations seek to assert their usurpation of power by reframing that usurpation as a right granted by the legislature through a statute the purpose of which never contemplated the action at issue. And in an effort to constrain the state, and to impose personal will on others through the exercise of personal (though institutionalized) systems of “law” that by their character as generated through “religion” fall outside of “law” produced by the state, that then affect both the person, institution and thing that seeks to assert “law” by constraining the protections of other “law” meant for the objects of this assertion. The word law, then, becomes lost in polycentric layers of systems that each claim the status of law, the interactions among which remains regulated by one set of law givers (the state) though in ways that make the simultaneous application of law networks likely in ways that institutionalize contradiction, complementarity and reversals.

Over the course of nearly a generation, and in contexts far from the realms of corporate law, U.S. elites have been battling, through the courts, to develop a new settlement for the coordination of two legal systems, sometimes incompatible with each other. One is the “secular” law of the political state—the United States of America, a federal union, and its subordinate governmental organs. The other is the law and governance systems of advanced institutionalized religions with large numbers of members who also hold political citizenship in the United States and its relevant sub units. After a period of judicial decisions that appeared to favor a larger “legal” space within which individuals could choose religious over political governance systems with respect to specific action where the two systems diverged, the courts appeared to shrink that gateway in Employment Div. v. Smith (494 U.S. 872 (1990)), which changed the rules for choosing to opt out of the framework of state law by holding that while states have the power to accommodate otherwise illegal acts done in compliance with religious law, they are not required to do so—effectively reducing religious opt out to a matter of political power. And that is precisely what happened. In response to Smith, the federal government enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C.§ 2000bb (RFRA)). RFRA provides that “[g]overnment shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results form a rule of general applicability (42 U.S.C. §2000bb-1(a)). That individual power to choose the application of religious over political obligation trumps all non-religious laws of general applicability unless the state can show that the legal obligation at issue is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest (ibid., 2000bb-1b)). All of these terms have meanings that are specific to the law and the legal framework within which RFRA was expected to be applied. RFRA had originally served as a legislative response to a judicial construction of state power exercised against the choices of natural persons to practice their religions accordance with the dictates of the law of that faith.

This framework, this lexicon of inter-systemic relations between state-law and religion-law systems, has application to corporations, at least potentially, by the possibilities offered in the signaling language of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (558 U.S. ___ (2010)), in which the U.S. Supreme Court might have been thought to vest corporations with personal autonomy, and at least some of the political rights that follow from that.[1] These implications are tested directly when a corporation, whose board of directors was determined to have the corporation adopt and practice its religious faith, the practice of which, in the opinion of its board of directors, prohibited it from providing certain medical benefits to its employees as otherwise mandated by the law of the United States.[2] Evangelical Christians, among others, have begun to assert a much broader area of activity in which the law of their religious faith must take `precedence over any countervailing imposition enacted by the state.[3]

In Sibelius v. Hobby Lobby, Inc. (723 F.3d 1114 (10th Cir. 2013) cert granted 134 S.Ct. 678 (2013) the applicability of RFRA was tested in two respects. The first touched on the extent to which religious law could be used to evade an interpretation of general applicability related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (124 Stat. 119 (ACA)). The second touched on whether juridical or legal persons might also assert rights to exercise religion, and in that exercise, avoid any obligation to comply with the law of the state. Specifically, ACA requires companies employing more than 50 employees to provide these employees with health insurance including preventive care and screenings for women (ACA 124 Stat. at 131). An administrative agency charged with the interpretation of this mandate determined thereafter that such care included “contraceptive methods” and “sterilization procedures.” Hobby Lobby is a closely held corporation, whose shareholders are committed to “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles. . . . serving our employees and their families by establishing a work environment and company policies that build character, strengthen individuals and nurture families.” (Hobby Lobby Website, Our Company, May 2014, available Thus, while the shareholders of Hobby Lobby were content to submit themselves to the law of the states of their citizenship and acquire the benefits thereof (the privilege of creating an autonomous juridical person through which to engage in economic activity), they “believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured.” (Ibid). They sought to opt out of the network of state regulation with respect to those aspects of their organization and interactions with their employees that they determined were inconsistent with religious law which they sought to apply to themselves, and through the company, to their employees. Among those state regulations abhorrent to the shareholders of Hobby Lobby was ACA’s requirement that insurance provided for employees include preventive care and screening requirements for women because this required them to provide their employees with services that might include contraception and abortion services which, they believed, their God found unacceptable for the community of the faithful to which they belonged.

Here Greimas’ notion of legal grammar produces a complication—for the grammar itself does not serve only to define the dynamics of its own coherence. It also provides a routing function—determining the basis on which one set of legal grammars must be displace by another. What U.S. constitutional law signifies as “accommodation” serves as a gateway to a lexicon of connection between two legal grammars that are not always necessarily harmonious. In Sibelius that requires both an interpretation of the religious law about the extent to which women’s bodies may be managed, and the extent to which the political command of the state (through law) compels a certain sort of management. That, itself, produces a semiosis of contraception and abortion—not just within the structures of U.S, law, but simultaneously within the governance frameworks of the religion to which Hobby Lobby belongs.

But the most interesting complication is produced by the subject of the religious accommodation—a legal construct and juridical person, a creature created only through and subject to the power of the state—a for profit corporation. Having given this juridical person birth, its shareholders now declare that the juridical person ought to be able to depart form the control of the state itself—and assert a religious belief it can apply to itself, and by applying it to itself, compel its employees to adhere to its religious beliefs even as they retain all other obligation to the state of which they are all citizens. This would shift the lexicon of law, its meaning, from a world normative construct in which natural persons have dignity and juridical persons have utility to its inverse, where juridical persons are vested with fundamental constitutionally protected dignity and natural persons have utility (to labor markets, the process of the expression of political democracy etc). Thus the question—can a corporation have a religion—is in actuality a set of semiotic problems: may individuals reach through an autonomous juridical person and assert their own religious belief in the operation and management of the enterprise, while for all other purposes creating a wall of separation between themselves (and their assets) and the entity (supported through the power of the state whose rules, with respect to mandatory insurance coverage they reject)?; can corporate preferences trump the individual dignity rights of natural persons by operation of their employment relationship?; what is the scope of the privilege of shareholding beyond its economic element, does it have a cultural and religious dimension?; if corporations are no longer understood as constructs of the state, to what extent is the state necessary for the construction of the corporation (and thus is the role of the state reduced to a negotiation for the set of privileges against state law)? These are the subordinate questions that are underlined in the Sibelius case, and which will form the subterranean elements of whatever opinion is announced by the courts.

These questions are semiotic in the sense that while the law fixes the meaning of the semiotic object, that meaning setting is itself an object of a relationship between entity, owner, and the state. That, in turn, touches on the firstness of the corporation itself: Is it law that defines the enterprise as an autonomous person and thus able to assert, in the manner of such constructs, all of the powers of a persons within the lexicon of law? Is it the relationship among the shareholders that defines the quality of firstness, the expression of which is the corporation as the nexus of the aggregated relations among shareholders, an aspect of which is recognized through the lexicon of law? In either case, does the aggregation itself transform the enterprise so that the essential consequence of a self-referencing firstness within the enterprise demands that it “think for itself” rather than aggregate the desires of those (state and shareholders) who were essential to its formation (through law and capital)? What does religious discourse have to say about this construct?

Legal and religious discourse, the language of the lawyer, absorbs these questions and transforms their import into the forms necessary to determine the answer to the “routing” question—does state or religious law apply to the corporation’s determination to comply with a state law mandating the provision of insurance with certain benefits. Here the semiosis is triadic and the focus is not merely on the sign or interpretant, but on the signified. Is it the corporation or is it the employees who bear the consequences of corporate decision making, or is it the shareholders whose financial interests (and religious ones apparently as well) are bound up in the corporation? Corporation, shareholder, state, religion, abortion, insurance, contraception, law, God; these revolve as sign, interpretant and signifier in the hands of advocates seeking to frame the issue to the advantage of their client. The relationship of shareholder, corporation, employee, state and religion changes depending on the role assigned to each. And there is no meta-framework that serves to standardize that analysis. Yet the law, to some extent provides the semblance of the structure because it is the law’s own structures that provide both the gateway out to religion and inward into the characterization of individuals involved.

In the case examined, the power of an enterprise to assert the religion of its “owners” in a pass through manner, constrains the scope of the authority of the state to regulate through its law, and diminishes the protections of law for individuals who, for compensation, appear to have agreed to assume the burdens of the religious law of their employer, and thus waive their “belonging” as citizens of the state whose law would otherwise apply. Here Greimas’ semiotic square become three dimensional and begins to spin.

Consider the details of this multi-level dynamic state of law making that is driven by the business decisions of the corporation but constitutes an effort to break free of the law of the state, by applying the law of the state for that purpose (a waiver in an odd sense), to advance the law of the application of “other” law unconstrained by the law of the state whose permission is sought to disregard the state. The context is provided by a small group of individuals, who have chosen to come within the law structures of the state, by complying with those laws pertaining to the creation of an aggregation of capital with distinct benefits we have come to call the corporation. But having submitted to the state in the creation of that entity, these same individuals now seek to take that entity out of the controlling embrace of the state, at least with respect to those matters of operation with respect to which these individuals seek to submit to a distinct legal order—that offered through their religion, and its institutionalized law structures. This is possible, these individuals, now speaking through this corporate abstraction made manifest by operation of the law of the state, assert, because the state itself has created an escape hatch from out of its law universe. But the escape hatch was created for individuals. Individuals might also include juridical persons. That is not unreasonable, though the courts have tended to apply these consequences of personality serendipitously. Still, autonomy is itself merely another gateway to meaning making: how is a corporation incarnated, does it control its own soul or is that soul in the thrall of shareholders, or is that thralldom limited to a slavery of conscience when the corporation is controlled by a well-defined and small constellation of “masters.” Otherwise are corporations both individuals and “masterless”—that is are they responsible for their own souls independent of those of their shareholders? The legal lexicon permits any of these solutions, and all of them. The question, then, lies well within the logic of law—but that logic merely seeks plausibility within its framework for naming and defining the objects of the legal lexicon, that is for “the production of law and the verification of the conformity of the utterances on the world with the canonical utterances of legal language.” If legal discourse always seeks plausibility in result but plausibility is essential for system integrity, then the semiotics of law suggests that it is system integrity rather than the precise answer to any legal question that is of the most importance in the performance of the law through the methodologies of interpretation (in courts, contracts, before arbitrators and as a cultural object). Now we have deployed Greimas’ semiotic square cubed:

state legal discourse                                                      religious legal discourse

not religious legal discourse                                            not state legal discourse


corporation (autonomous)                                Corporation (shareholder property)

Not corporation (shareholder property)             not corporation (autonomous)

employer                                                                                     employee

not employee                                                                            not employer

Griemas’ analytical model provides a necessary framework to clarify semiotically the U.S. corporation’s place within the lexicons of law, yet it must be remembered that in the end the analysis is necessarily applicable in context globally to all corporations—corporations semiotically are a global concept whose personality appears as a semiotic challenge in all jurisdictions, even in those that restrict the corporate form to the state.[3] Though the discourse is legal, the construct is necessarily normative, but normative in a form that informs not just the self referencing lexicons of law, but also economic or political theory and policy a systemic way. Corporations, then, are not merely bearers of law (or religion), but also of an underlying ideology that informs the relationships between it and its interpretants. All corporations have necessarily ideological ties, ties with specific ideologies. None are neutral. These can be manifested in a variety of forms, and traditionally were sometimes centered on the analogy of the family—the worker was as much a member of the company “family” as he was to her biological family. The European form is the defender of the reputation of the company. All of this, of course, touches on the central theme of belonging, as a geography or space of inclusion, as the definition of the excluded and the relationship among them.[4] Thus, Sibelius treats at multiple levels the semiosis of belonging—to the enterprise of the state, to the community of believers, to the family of the employer, to the aggregation of the corporation.

And so legal discourse is both self-referencing and path structuring. As the complexities of the Sebelius case hints, legal discourse’s contingencies are both structural and dynamic. As Greimas suggests, the mechanisms of acquiring a practicable legal language leads to structures through which an a-semantic word, expression, sentence—sign—is transferred to the legislative level, that of definitively naming things and inscribing predictable events into the modal grid of prescriptions and interdictions. That legislative level, however, is necessarily polycentric. There is no singular legislative level—there are multiple simultaneous levels in which the naming and inscribing function becomes highly contingent and in which legal discourse is as much about routing questions of interpretation into the correct legal system as it is about interpretation within the lexicon of law. Neither routing nor interpretation is singular or linear. Sebelius reminds us that multiple simultaneous legal discourses occur even in the determination of what appears to be a single legal question. The communication among interlinked interpretation and its routing consequences adds contingency to what in Greimas’ time might have otherwise been understood as the stability and singularity of the taxonomy of fundamental categories that now must produce grammatical discourses of multiple law systems.

What consequence from this detangling of a complex legal issue and its translation out of the self-referencing language universe of law and into the meaning universe of semiotics? Or, as Nietzsche used to criticize English thinkers for this bad habit—of what use is all of this? The answer to these questions, like that posed to the Supreme Court on the profession of religion by a corporation, is contingent, and tells one more about those who ask the question than the value of the question itself. The lawyer seeks results; the semioticians seeks meaning(s). Each may see in the other the means to their respective objects. For the lawyer the semiotic analysis provides a tool to bend meaning in the service of political or professional goals. For the semioticians, the work of the lawyer (and their clients, the courts and the state) provides the materials that may be harvested for meaning making. Whether a corporation has a soul, whether the state may recognize and create rules managing the power of individuals to move between simultaneously operating law systems; the mechanics for effecting these choices and their limits; the character and meaning of governmental acts (contraception offered through insurance as prevention or abortion, etc.). These are all important for the operation of the law system, yet none of the possible constrictions of meaning will substantially affect the legitimacy of the system itself, its grammar and cohesion. It may change its character, and define the limits of possible future choices, but it does not change the basic character of the sign, signifier, interpretant universe or the mechanics of meaning making played out within the Greimian semiotic square. It is in this sense that we understand the political element of social discourse through law. Yet both also provide the sources for meta-meaning making as well. Each is a necessary component of the larger system Greimas suggests, one in which desire and action—the interaction of signs in the service of desire (itself fueled by interpreted signs)—illuminates the structures of closed systems for the identification of signs, the positioning of signifier and the framework within which interpretant function. Each functions legitimately only as long they conform to the meta-rules through which this contingent meaning making operates. To do otherwise is to fall outside the universe not of meaning but of meaning making roles—as semioticians or as lawyer (judge, legislator, etc.). Whether a corporation has a soul or a religion, then, becomes a critical systemic matter when the choice field of meaning is expanded beyond system tolerance—that is when the choices themselves explode the grammar of the field. It is in this sense that we understand values (normative) element of social discourse through law.



Chapter 6. Part 1: The Semiotic Analysis of A Legal Discourse: Commercial Laws That Govern Companies and Groups of Companies”. The Semiotic Analysis of Legal Discourse, pp. 102-115. University of Minnesota Press, 1990, p. 102-115. (French Original: “Analyse sémiotique d’un discours juridique: la loi commerciale sur les societies et les groupes sociétés” in Sémiotique et sciences sociales, Paris, Le Seuil 1976. p. 79ff. 

[1] The semiotic implications of Citizens United were treated in our earlier work, Jan Broakman and Larry Catá Backer, Lawyers Making Meaning: The Semiotics of Law in Legal Eduction II (Springer2013) at pages 160-180 (“Chapter 12, “Citizens United Unveiled”).

[2] Among the most powerful advocates of this position in the United States are portions of the U.S. Christian evangelical community. While a generation ago many Protestant evangelicals did not have a strong view on contraception (Christian Medical Society, “A Protestant Affirmation on the Control of Human Reproduction, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 22:46-47 (1970) (available )), that view has changed considerably in the 21st century (Southern Baptist Convention, Basic Beliefs, available (“Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord”)). [3] For example, the Basic Beliefs of the Southern Baptist Convention includes the following: “It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations... to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ. . . . Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions. . . . All Christians are under obligation to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. . . ” (Southern Baptist Convention, Basic Beliefs, available
[3] Discussed in Larry Catá Backer, “The Cooperative as Proletarian Corporation: Property Rights Between Corporation, Cooperatives And Globalization In Cuba,” Northwestern Journal of International Law and Business 33:527-618 (2013).

[4] Discussed in Massimo Leone, “Introduction to the Semiotics of Belonging,” Semiotica 192:449-470 (2012).

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