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Should corporations have the same free speech rights as individuals?

  • Supreme Court Cases

    Over the past decade, a number of groups and individuals have argued against many of the legal protections that corporations receive. These critics argue that problems such as those associated with Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom would not have been as severe if corporations did not have legal protection for their political speech, which limits their accountability to the people. What these critics miss, however, is that going back as far as 1889, in Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad Co. V. Beckwith, 129 U.S. 26, the Supreme Court has found corporations to be persons. This finding of personhood means that corporations are properly granted the same protections for their political speech as are enjoyed by other individuals.
    The First Amendment grants individuals the right to free speech. When the right to free speech is combined with the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, corporations are also provided protection for their political speech. The framers of our Constitution intended for all parties to have the right to free speech, and the critics who want to strip corporations of this right are acting in an unconstitutional and unpatriotic manner. After all, one of the principles underlying the American Revolution was the belief in “no taxation without representation,” and corporations are taxpayers.
    Another reason corporations deserve protections for their political speech is that, although corporations are treated as artificial persons, they are not capable of voting. Instead, the only means corporations have available to influence laws and the political culture is through their political speech. To limit corporations’ political speech would be similar to barring corporations from having any fair say in the political process. Individuals are allowed to engage in political speech and vote; if corporations are not given a similar right, they are at a disadvantage in putting forward their point of view. The fair thing to do in this situation is to continue to grant corporations protections for their political speech. Corporations may not be able to directly have equal say and equal representation in government, but continuing to grant them their political speech protections is an important step toward equality in the political realm.
    Finally, allowing corporations to engage in political speech is not the same as saying that the general population will agree with the corporations’ political speech. Rather, corporate political speech allows corporations to express their opinions openly and then allows the people to agree or disagree with these opinions. Accordingly, there is no threat to the political speech of others to have corporations have greater access to corporate political speech. Also, in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765 (1978), the Supreme Court held that corporate political speech cannot be limited to try to grant others more speech. Hence, any such attempts should be prohibited.

  • Corporations have the same rights as individiduals

    Why should corporations be treated any differently then other citizens of the United States? They should have the right to freedom of speech stated in the 1st amendment of the constitution just like any other individual does. Corporations should be able to use money/speech to support candidates in election campaigns.

  • Corporations are made up of individual people

    Why would the same rights not be granted to corporation? Individuals and corporations alike should have the freedom to choose and support a campaign even with money. It is stated in the first amendment of the constitution that people have the right to freedom of speech so corporations should too. They are made up of people.

  • Corporations are run by people.

    Corporations are run by people and people have the right to free speech. It is our constitutional right to have freedom of speech, despite what Obama and the government would like us to believe. Our founding fathers gave us this right and no one should be able to take that liberty away.

  • Yes they should.

    However, they should have a very good PR person to help them keep from putting their foot in their mouths. While corporations may not be "people", they are made up of people and run by people, usually serving a purpose to benefit people. In addition to a PR person, they many need a good lawyer to help with any slander suits they encounter.

  • Yes they should.

    Why would corporations not have free the same free speech rights as individuals? A corporation is made up of many individuals so one shoulsd assume that corporations would have those same rights. Even though the corporations speak as a collective.they are still comprised of many employees who all have working rights so the company should retain those all rights given to their respective workers.

  • No!! No no

    We the people should have the right to know what they are doing with the money given to them
    we should be informed of what they are trying to hide behind we have the right to know what is happening with these corporations

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  • No!! No no

    We the people should have the right to know what they are doing with the money given to them
    we should be informed of what they are trying to hide behind we have the right to know what is happening with these corporations

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  • Corporations are not people.

    The biggest argument on the pro-free speech side is that corporations are " run by people and people have the right to free speech". The three arguments supporting all make reference to that quote. Yes corporations are run by people and if the people in corporation want to form a group to voice their ideas or represent them, let them do so - they can be called PACS or whatever. In reality corporations are run by one or at most just a few people, and when those people use the guise of corporate free speech, what they are really doing is using the corporate bottomless purse to support own individual ideas. Corporations should not have any more right to free speech than they have the right to vote. Corporate speech should be limited to promoting their products

  • Corporations are many people; not one person.

    A corporation is made up of many individuals with highly diverse opinions and beliefs. Any decision a corporation makes will have some of its members disagreeing. The "vote" or "statement" by a Corporation is not "pure" as it has within it members who think otherwise. Corporation "speech" is not "true;" nor should it be "free."

  • Corporations are not Human

    Corporations should not have the right to free speech. The people who own them and the people who work for them already have those rights. If corporations had the right to free speech, the instances of libel and slander would probably increase greatly. Allowing corporations the right to say or publish anything they want would be socially irresponsible.

  • Fascism in America

    This did not give the corporation the rights of individuals , it elevated them to a higher tier . Prior to this it was a felony to give money to a politician , today they call it campaign contribution . Corporations have the resources to buy the politicians the people do not . As a result of this decision the corporate/state government has evolved . What we have today is the remnants of a Democratic/Republic . What will it look like in another 100 years ?

  • Corporations have many attributes of personhood, but so do dogs and robots.

    Corporations have very different interests than individual people have. Corporations exist to make a profit. Although the people in the corporation probably have other goals — to stand up for their beliefs, to make a difference — the corporation's job is to make money. There is enough of a difference between people and corporations (among other things) to warrant a different set of rules. If corporations cannot vote or run for office, why should the be allowed to try to buy elections? Corporations are made up of people......That's three words away from them BEING people.

  • No, they shouldn't.

    Corporations are representative of many people, and as each person is an individual one company cannot support all the views of all of its employee's and beneficiaries, nor do they require the same protections form large groups or oppressive organizations or people as an individual person does. An individual needs to be protected by something when they cannot protect themselves where corporations already posses enough protections that they do not need the addition of free speech.

  • No. Corporations are not people.

    Just because something is "made of people" doesn't mean it should get the exact same protections as people. Corporations have much greater protections through monetary means than individuals--just like governments. It is for this very reason that the constitution gave individuals these protections. Once corporations are able to feel like individuals, be exploited like individuals, and are able to suffer and feel joy like actual humans, then they can have the same rights.


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