Washington University Law Review
In recent years, the publicly held corporation has assumed a central position in both the economic and political spheres of American life. Economically, the public corporation has long acted as the key institution within American capitalism. Politically, the public corporation now can use its economic might to sway electoral outcomes as never before. Indeed, individuals who control public firms wield more economic power and political power today than ever before. These truths profoundly shape American society. The power, control, and role of the public corporation under law and regulation, therefore, hold more importance than ever before.
Even though corporate law and regulation define all aspects of this central economic and political institution within the American system, the development of corporate law is impeded by a deficient pedagogy—and thus, to a certain degree, scholarship—that scarcely mentions the power and influence corporations hold. Critical voices, in particular, are excluded from virtually all corporate law textbooks. Many corporate law texts taught in law school classrooms treat the social role of the public corporation as a black box of corporate law pedagogy and, by extension, mainstream legal scholarship. Indeed, a relentless stream of legal scholarship challenging the law and regulation of the public firm from the perspective of its broader social and economic implications receives little to no mention in the key textbooks adopted and taught from in law schools today. This Article challenges the dominant corporate law master narrative perpetuated in all of the major business law textbooks. This master narrative prevents law students and legal scholars from fully understanding and analyzing the changing nature and evolution of law and power in the United States.