The Undeserving Rights of American Corporations
Although corporations are comprised of individuals, it is highly debated if corporations deserve the same rights that the Constitution grants each American citizen. The First Amendment gives each citizen equal opportunity to pursue his or her own ambitions in coalition with their great nation. In the Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee case No. 08-205, the Supreme Court validated the idea of political spending as free speech and abolished the ban on corporate political spending. Corporations are imperative to an industrialized society, but they should not have the right to control political decisions, especially when they are motivated by selfish and monetary reasons. Corporate speech involves individual speech, but it does not have the human voice. The Bill of Rights was drafted to protect the rational freedoms of an actual human voice.
At the time of America’s establishment, the founding fathers drafted a Constitution without specified basic rights for American individuals. Therefore, the citizens demanded a Bill of Rights to guarantee their freedoms. James Madison scripted the First Amendment to protect the freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition as evidenced by the direct quote: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Linder, 2012a) The words, “the people,” as addressed in the First Amendment, do not include corporations and were designed to solely protect individuals. Corporations cannot vote nor can they run for office. Corporations, such as the East India Trading Company, were part of the reason the founding fathers desired a revolution against England. Madison thought of corporations as being corrupting influences on both the economy and the government (Fox, 2010). Thomas Jefferson, another powerful supporter of the First Amendment, stated, “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country” (Foster, 2011).
The First Amendment
is currently under more scrutiny than ever before. The proliferation of technology has drastically changed the average American’s way of life since such an abundance of information is now readily available and easily accessible. People also like being able to post anything, whether accurate or inaccurate, online and having the information generally accepted as fact by whoever is reading it (Yalof & Dautrich, 2002, p.79). First Amendment rights are now significant to citizens of all ages through self-expressive technologies. Because of the growth of technology, the role of the First Amendment is becoming more and more prevalent due to the rise of censorship. It is now possible for people to publicize ideas to millions of viewers via the Internet. However, corporations, such as Google, Facebook, and YouTube, are constantly pressured by the government and religious organizations to censor. Facebook and YouTube consistently decide what to censor and what to keep public on their sites (Wu, 2010). The First Amendment was developed to manage misuses of power and to keep the power balanced. Corporations will continue to disproportion America’s freedoms in more ways as technology advances; thus, citizens will come to greatly appreciate the rights specified to them in the First Amendment even more than they did before.
However, the Supreme Court decided in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case that the freedom of corporate speech is also covered by the protections that promise freedom of individual speech. The Court overruled the Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce case, which held that prohibiting political...
References: Colucci, F. (2010). Citizens United: the embodiment of Justice Kennedy’s role on court. Retrieved April 27, 2012 from http://www.brennancenter.org/blog/archives_books/citizens_united_the_embodiment_of_justice_kennedys_role_on_court/
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. 558. U.S. (2010)
Foster, S. (2011). What the Founding Fathers Thought About Corporations. Retrieved April 24, 2012 from http://www.addictinginfo.org/2011/11/13/what-the-founding-fathers-thought-about-corporations/
Fox, J. (2010). What the Founding Fathers Really Thought About Corporations. Retrieved April 24, 2012 from http://blogs.hbr.org/fox/2010/04/what-the-founding-fathers-real.html
Linder, D. (2012a). The Bill of Rights: Its History and Significance, Retrieved April 24, 2012 from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/billofrightsintro.html
Linder, D. (2012b). Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Retrieved April 26, 2012 from http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/citizensunited2010.html
Nichols, J., & McChestney, R.W. (2012). The Assault of the Super PACs. Nation, 294 (6), 11-17.
Wu, T. (2010). The Future of Free Speech. Chronicle of Higher Education, 57 (13), B4-B5.
Yalof, D.A., & Dautrich, K. (2002). The First Amendment and the Media
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