Applying the First Amendment to Corporations: Well established and a good idea
There’s been much hang-wringing about the recent Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a ban on direct electioneering by corporations in a window before elections. Much of the buzz, especially from left-leaning corners, sees it as a revolutionary advance in corporate personhood, imbuing corporations with the free-speech rights of individuals. While I agree there are quite negative consequences of the case, and I’m wary of the influence of money in politics overall, I can’t really see how this is as revolutionary a decision as people seem to be claiming. In particular, the basic principle that the First Amendment restricts the ability of the government to regulate any speech or publications, including that by corporations or any other entity, has been well established for decades, and indeed almost never questioned until now. Nor, if you are a civil libertarian, would it be desirable to campaign for a wholesale reversal of that position.