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.

Related posts

  • borborygmi

    Mitt says Corporations are people.  

  • WOOF

    Which candidate are the Manchurian corporations backing now that Huntsman has withdrawn? 

    • Jfisher17

      Still Obama.

  • I H8 GOPers

    American’s don’t creat a person by creating a corporation. Americans don’t get an extra vote  for creating a corporation. American’s shouldn’t lose their right to free speach by forming a corporation, and NO ONE HAS ASKED FOR OR THREATENED THAT.  But, the corporation shouldn’t be able to do things that aren’t legal for the Americans, or foreign citizens, to do.

    • suitepotato

      Then you should be dead set against all the left wing organizations and the money they funnel into the system. But you aren’t.

    • Wayne

      The only difference there is between corporations and unions in this regard is that the unions give hundreds of times more money than all corporations put together.  And all that union money goes to one party.

  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    If you’re for shutting up Americans who own corporations then you must be in favor of shutting up Americans that join labor unions. 

  • sbark

    Wouldnt a Union essentially be a Corptn in comparison then also.     You have a bunch of quasi stockholders in the small blue collar workers that really on a Indiv.basis have no say in what a Hofa etc will ultimatly do with their money……no diff than the small Indiv. shareholders of a Corptn….

    I’d say lets take the power away from Corptns and Unions………………compromise as the Left would always say………

    Get rid of the Lobbyist money from both those sources corrupting our Govt and we’d be better off……

    ……..but until the Left agrees to tear away the power of Unions,   I’d say the Corptn should have just as much input into our form of Govt.

  • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

    Corporations are not people.
    Unless over turned, Citizens United marks the end of America as we have known it.

    • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

      Very good.  Corporations are associations of people who have rights to get together and do business and speak their mind as one. 

      • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

        A corporation is a piece of paper in a government office.
        No one is denying people associated with that paper their right of free speech.

        • suitepotato

          Yes you are. You’re denying them the use of THEIR money to spend on spreading their speech as they see fit. You’re only in favor of unlimited money and access for speech you agree with.

          • WOOF

            Other peoples’ money.

          • Jfisher17

            Sorta like unions?  The whole point being, I think, is that the lesser of two evils is allowing corporations unlimited donations, rather than the government deciding how much money (totally arbitrary) should be spent on political (free) speech.

          • borborygmi

            Then Unions should have “the use of THEIR money to spend on spreading their speech as they see fit”

          • Wayne

            Why unions but not corporations?

    • Jfisher17

      We were wondering who should win the next drama queen award, and you have answered us. 

  • Sp

    That’s right, they have corporate freedom of speech which is the least protected of them all.

    Congrats.

    Ask a constitutional scholar or a lawyer.

  • WOOF

    Don’t come crying to me when GOOGLE creates a socialist workers paradise and completes its plan for total world domination.

    • Sp

      This comment pwns so hard.  GOPs have a hard time thinking about the advantages that others might gain from their shitty, activist judges.

  • chris

    This isn’t so much an argument about free speech as it is about corporations influencing politics, which undermines the democratic process.  The government caters more to those large organizations that donate boat loads of money than to ordinary people.  To be fair, both conservatives and liberals are guilty of it.

    • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

      People banding together and pooling their resources whether it be through a union, political party, corporation or local club is democracy. 

      Yes the government caters to the wrong people too often.

      • I H8 GOPers

        You boys have argued that corporations don’t really even pay taxes, they just charge their customers more to cover the higher rates and closed loopholes.

        That’s the problem with Corps contributions, it’s our money they are using to counter my free speech.

        • Jfisher17

          “It’s our money they are using to counter my free seech.” Really? Sorta like public employee unions using “our money” to counter my free speech. 

    • Wayne

      Union (bosses) have much more influence in government today than corporations “which undermines the democratic process” even more.  Democrats want a monopoly on union/corporation money.  That’s why you hear all the screaming about “corporations are not people”.

Top