Citizens United, Liberty, and John Stuart Mill
13 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2017
Date Written: September 27, 2015
The First Amendment, adopted to safeguard human liberty and autonomy, was construed by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 2008 Citizens United decision in a way that undermines those important foundational values. This turn in First Amendment jurisprudence represents a radical departure from the Anglo-American free expression tradition in law, as well as in political philosophy, represented prominently by John Stuart Mill, the author of On Liberty. Although the decision is nominally premised on the interests of citizens to avoid discrimination based on speaker identity, to hear others’ uncensored expressions of ideas, to access political information that will enable them to participate effectively in democratic government, and to be protected when they engage in political dissent, the blow that the decision deals to campaign finance reform produces effects that instead undermine human liberty and self-government.
Keywords: Liberty, Autonomy, Free Speech, First Amendment, Citizens United, Campaign Finance Reform
JEL Classification: K00, K10, K19, K30, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation