Monday, May 10, 2010

Protecting Free Speech Also Means the Speech of Corporations Who Are Made Up Of People

The most important job of the Supreme Court is to protect the free speech of Americans. And they did that recently. This is a major victory of all of us. So what is a corporation? Are they made up of sheep? Cows? Dogs? No! Corporations are made up of people that have a right to voice their opinion...regardless of whether Washington likes it or not. We must be ever vigilant of our rights as individuals, groups, or corporations. If we allow one type of speech to be regulated we will all lose our rights to free speech eventually.

...The court's opinion earlier this year in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission said that politicians could not enact limits on independent campaign contributions targeting corporations or unions. President Barack Obama famously chided the justices for this opinion during his State of the Union Address.

Congress is considering a bill that would again specify who could no longer speak freely, including companies that received Troubled Asset Relief Program funding (meaning the key banks) and U.S. subsidiaries of foreign-based companies. The same restrictions would not limit the speech of unions with large foreign activities. Political parties would get discounts on broadcast advertisements to respond to corporations or unions.

Citizens United has been viewed as a case about campaign reform, but it's better read as a broad, 21st-century primer on free speech....

...Citizens United is part of a line of cases beginning in the 1940s that protected the rights of unions to endorse candidates in print and through television broadcasts. Justice William O. Douglas wrote in one such case that the Constitution required "no point of view be restrained or barred," so that voters "have access to the views of every group in the community."

Speech rights are the same whether exercised through pamphlets or the Web, and whether by individuals or through associations of individuals, incorporated or not. "When government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought," the justices warned in Citizens United. "This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves."
Read at WSJ "Tech-Savvy Justices Protect Free Speech".

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