Citizens United Perspectives

The Times offers this editorial on Citizens United this morning.

What the conservatives seemed most concerned about was protecting the interests of corporations. The chief justice and Justice Scalia seemed especially perturbed that what they see as the inviolable right of these legal constructs to speak might be infringed upon.

Bradley A. Smith discusses the status of corporations here.

Note that to deny constitutional rights to corporations would put at risk a great deal of speech protected by the First Amendment. Can corporate offices be searched without a warrant? Can a phone company withhold from the government call records of its subscribers, unless the government produces a warrant? Can the New York Times be censored because it is a corporation?

Indeed, in the case before the Supreme Court this week, the government has argued that it can ban books if they are published by corporations — as most are. It argues that it can prohibit a corporation from paying a writer to author a political book. This should be alarming. There may be arguments that such rights could be protected in other ways, or that distinctions can be made in the Constitution to protect them while prohibiting other corporate speech, but those eager to strip corporations of their rights need to at least consider such issues.

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