Saturday, April 21, 2012

Do corporations in America have a historical right to free speech?

You're damned right they do. With the Democrats starting to push the DISCLOSE Act, again I, and with Nancy Pelosi declaring that those who exercise their freedom of association should lose their right to free speech, I decided to take a look at how the Supreme Court has historically ruled on the subject of Corporations and free speech.

First up is NAACP v Patterson (1958)
"It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the "liberty" assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech. ... Of course, it is immaterial whether the beliefs sought to be advanced by association pertain to political, economic, religious or cultural matters,

Gitlow v New York (1925)
For present purposes we may and do assume that freedom of speech and of the press-which are protected by the First Amendment from abridgment by Congress-are among the fundamental personal rights and 'liberties' protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the States.

Staub v City of Baxley (1958)
It is undeniable that the ordinance authorized the Mayor and Council of the City of Baxley to grant "or refuse to grant" the required permit in their uncontrolled discretion. It thus makes enjoyment of speech contingent upon the will of the Mayor and Council of the City, although that fundamental right is made free from congressional abridgment by the First Amendment and is protected by the Fourteenth from invasion by state action. For these reasons, the ordinance, on its face, imposes an unconstitutional prior restraint upon the enjoyment of First Amendment freedoms and lays "a forbidden burden upon the exercise of liberty protected by the Constitution." Cantwell v. Connecticut, supra, at 307. Therefore, the judgment of conviction must fall.

Buckley v Valeo (1976)
A restriction on the amount of money a person or group can spend on political communication during a campaign necessarily reduces the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration, and the size of the audience reached. [Footnote 18] This is because virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money. The distribution of the humblest handbill or leaflet entails printing, paper, and circulation costs. Speeches and rallies generally necessitate hiring a hall and publicizing the event. The electorate's increasing dependence on television, radio, and other mass media for news and information has made these expensive modes of communication indispensable instruments of effective political speech.

These are just a few of the Supreme Court case decisions that prove that America has historically affirmed you don't lose your freedom of speech because you exercise your freedom of association.

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