A Million Corporations with a Million Campaign Ads: Citizens United, the People's Rights Amendment, and the Speech of Non-Persons
58 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 3, 2013
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission struck down a federal law that prohibited corporations and unions from buying ads advocating for or opposing a federal candidate. The decision reversed decades of precedent upholding such restraints and evoked wide-spread condemnation. Much of the criticism has focused on the Court’s ostensible holding that corporations are people, and thus that their speech is entitled to protection under the First Amendment. This understanding of the Court’s holding in Citizens United has led to a proposed solution: eliminating corporate personhood. That solution, however, would not have its advocates’ hoped for effect of reversing Citizens United or preventing corporations and other artificial entities from spending unlimited sums to engage in electioneering. That is because advocates of stripping corporate personhood forget that speech involves two parties -- a speaker and a listener. Eliminating corporate personhood will not provide legislatures the power to regulate corporate speech -- any interested listener could simply sue to hear the silenced speech.
Keywords: Citizens United, First Amendment, Listener Rights, Free Speech, Campaign Finance
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