To some it seems silly to argue that a chimp or a dolphin or a whale is a "person".
But the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Citizens United (2010)
that corporations are persons entitled to free speech in accord with the First Amendment to the Consitution.
- 1789: Slavery was legal and institutionalized in the U.S. Constitution.
- 1791: The Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constituion applied only to white males who owned property and were over 21 years old.
- 1857: The Dred Scott case: U.S.Supreme Court ruled slaves are property, not citizens and "have no rights a court must respect."
- 1865: 13th Amendment: Slavery is abolished.
- 1868: 14th Amendment: Black males are citizens of the U.S. and "persons" are entitled to equal protection of the laws" and they can vote.
- 1870: 15th Amendment: Black males get the right to vote.
- 1870: The Married Women's Property Act 1870 affirmed that women in the United Kingdom were the legal owners of the money they earned and had the right to inherit property.
- 1874: The Supreme Court affirmed that the 14th Amendment was only intended to apply to males; it did not give females the right to vote.
- 1877: Congressional leaders agreed to remove Union troops from the South allowing reestablishment of white supremacy.
- 1896: The Supreme Court ruled that segregation is legal "if seperate accomodations are equal". Black males effectively lost 14th Amendment rights.
- 1920: 19th Amendment: women get the vote after 75 years of struggle.
- 1954: Public schools cannot be racially segregated. The Supreme Court ruled that seperate is not equal.
- 1964: Civil Rights Act ended voting discrimination and literacy testing as a qualification for voting and established "equal opportunity".
- 1964: 24th Amendment abolished poll taxes which had been used to prevent Blacks from voting in some states.
- 1971: Reed vs. Reed: Women get the 14th Amendment, they are affirmed to be citizens with such rights.
- 2013: Judges in New York deny chimpanzees "personhood" in response to a suit brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project.