Americans Don’t Lose Their Right To Free Speech Just Because They Organize As A Corporation

Saturday marks the two-year anniversary of the Citizens United vs. FEC case in which the Supreme Court struck down limits on political spending by corporations. During those two years, the left has tried to re-implement those restrictions through a variety of means, and they’ve failed.

But the fight isn’t over. According to the Washington Post, a number of liberal groups are pushing for constitutional amendments (among other means) to put the restrictions back in place.

We’re already at a point where the public overwhelmingly opposes the decision,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a watchdog group helping to spearhead the efforts. “The goal is to build a grass-roots movement that will eventually be able to shape the debate.”

Public Citizen is teaming up with local activists to stage about 300 rallies and other events, most of them on Friday or Saturday, targeting multinational companies around the country. Many are being billed as “Occupying the Corporations” protests, inspired by the anti-Wall Street demonstrations that have taken hold in recent months.

Common Cause also launched its own pro-amendment project this week, dubbed Amend2012 and chaired by Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich. It includes a petition drive opposing the Supreme Court’s judgment that corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to political speech.

“It’s time to stop the unlimited flow of corrupting money into our elections,” the group’s petition reads. “To do that, we need a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United and declare that only people are people.”

The problem with this argument is that the Supreme Court didn’t rule that corporations are people. The Supreme Court ruled that people don’t lose their 1st amendment rights when they choose to act through corporations or associations or labor unions.

Americans have an unlimited capacity for political expression (except, of course, when it comes to contributing to political campaigns). If Americans choose to express themselves through a corporation or another organization, why should that capacity be diminished?

All organizations are, ultimately, representatives of people. We may not like what a given organization is advocating for. We may thin it’s unfair that they are well-funded and can spend a lot on getting their message out. But at the end of the day, speech is speech and it ought not be regulated.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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