For over a decade (and for reasons I’ll explain in another post later this week), I’ve understood that “democracy” is a collectivist form of government fundamentally identical to communism and socialism. I am therefore more than a little intrigued by the terms “collective” and “collectivist”.
So, imagine my surprise when (last week) I stumbled on an A.D. 1988 Supreme Court case that dealt with the “collective entity doctrine”. I’d never before heard of the term “collective entity” in American law and I had no idea that there was a “collective entity doctrine”. That surprised me. I don’t know about a lot of things–in fact, most things are unknown to me. Nevertheless, given my interest in collectivist forms of government, and given that the term “collective entity” has been used by the Supreme Court in at least 9 cases since A.D. 1974, I’m almost amazed that I hadn’t previously heard of this doctrine.
In fact, according to the Braswell v. US case (below), there are at least three other cases (including the earliest instance, Hale v Henkel in A.D. 1906) which did not actually use the term “collective entity” but helped lay the foundation for what came to be called the “collective entity doctrine”.
Thus, the “collective entity” concept has been recognized in American law for over a century, but I just heard about it last week. Apparently, I didn’t get the memo. Nevertheless, I’m amazed by my own ignorance. How could I not have heard of that concept before now?
My ignorance is particularly amazing because, as you’ll see if your read the attached case, the “collective entity doctrine” seems to closely parallel and may even explain the “ADASK”/ “Adask” name dichotomy that I’ve been fixated on for over fifteen years. I.e., I subscribe to the theory that the all-upper-case name “ALFRED N ADASK” signifies some sort of artificial entity that is other than the man whose proper name is “Alfred Adask”. I read the collective entity doctrine” as coming very close to suggesting that either 1) “ALFRED N ADASK” is a “collective entity”; or 2) the relationship between “ALFRED N ADASK” and “Alfred Adask” may constitute or create a “collective entity”.
Thus, I should’ve caught wind the collective entity doctrine years ago. But I didn’t.
However, my ignorance may be excused because when I looked up the term “collective entity” under “collective” and under “entity” in the 8th edition (A.D. 2004) of Black’s Law Dictionary, I found no mention of “collective entity”. How could it be that a concept recognized by the Supreme Court as a “doctrine,” and which can trace its roots all the way back to A.D. 1906, and which has appeared in at least nine Supreme Court cases, is not defined in Black’s Law Dictionary?
Perhaps the term “collective entity” is defined in one or more of the earlier editions of Black’s or perhaps in the most recent (9th) edition. I haven’t checked them all so I don’t know. But it strikes me as extremely suspicious that Blacks‘ has failed to include the term “collective entity” in its 8th edition.
My reading of the Braswell case leads me to suspect that the “collective entity” concept may be one of the most important in American law. That’s because I’m fixated on the “ADASK”/ “Adask” name hypothesis and the “collective entity doctrine” seems to “fit” that hypothesis. But–given that I’m obsessed with the “ADASK”/”Adask” name hypothesis–it wouldn’t be surprising if I tended to see evidence of that hypothesis almost everywhere I looked. Thus, in reading Braswell, I may have leaped to an unsupportable conclusion.
But I don’t think so.
I may not have interpreted Braswell properly, but I still believe I’ve stumbled onto something very important.
Because, according to the Braswell case, anyone who represents a collective entity (which can include corporations, labor unions and even partnerships) forfeits at least some of the rights that he would normally expect as a man. More, although the Braswell case never mentions trusts, it implies that anyone who represents a trust or perhaps a trust beneficiary, also forfeits some of his constitutionally protected rights by the mere act of “representing” the trust.
This possibility is especially troubling in a legal system that routinely subjects defendants to the presumption that they are fiduciaries in some implied trust relationship. I.e., if representing a trust can implicate the “collective entity doctrine,” it is unproven but conceivable that you might lose some rights simply because a judge silently presumes that you represent an implied trust that you don’t even know about.
I read Braswell to suggest that any time the man “Adask” represents the thing “ADASK,” the man may thereby waive at least some of his constitutionally-protected rights. For example, suppose it were true that the name “ADASK” signifies an entity other than the man “Adask”. Suppose the IRS sent a letter addressed to “ADASK” but the man “Adask” received and opened that letter. Under my reading of the “collective entity doctrine,” it appears possible that the act of merely receiving the letter addressed to “ADASK” might be construed as evidence that “Adask” represents “ADASK” and therefore waived certain fundamental rights that “Adask” might need to defend himself against the IRS. If so, it follows that an accurate understanding of the collective entity doctrine might be essential to avoid some significant degree of governmental prosecution.
Again, I may be going too far in my analysis of Braswell.
But maybe not. Maybe the case is as important as I suspect.
You can download a pristine copy of the Braswell case from http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&court=US&case=/us/487/99.html.
That case is about 10,000 words.
You can also download my copy of the case wherein I’ve interjected another 10,000 words of my own commentary as I went through the case and attempted to understand its meaning and implications.
More, my “version” of the case is not only over 20,000 words, but it’s also colorized with the various highlighting schemes I use to help me understand words and sentences as I read a document. I know that this highlighting is a pain in the butt for other readers, but it helps me to understand a original text and I’m not going to remove it.
My analysis of the Braswell case is pretty much “stream of consciousness”. My document is not an essay, per se, it’s an ongoing analysis. Some of the conclusions I leap to at the beginning of the case may be refuted or contradicted by the time I get to the end of the case. More, the text hasn’t been proofread, so if you see obvious errors (maybe I neglected to include the word “not” at point where it seems likely that meant to use it) let me know.
Given the length of my analysis of the Braswell case and my annoying habit of highlighting the text, I don’t expect many people to read and understand my analysis of this case. Even so, I believe that those of you who take the time and make the effort to read this case may learn something of importance.
Here’s my version of the case as a PDF file: 120723 Braswell v US COLLECTIVE ENTITY DOCTRINE