03 February 2010

Corporate rights

Cato @ Liberty | Ilya Shapiro | When Individuals Form Corporations, They Don’t Lose Their Rights

Would the “no rights for corporations” crowd be okay with the police storming their employers’ offices and carting off their (employer-owned) computers for no particular reason? — or to chill criticism of some government policy.

Or how about Fifth Amendment rights? Can the mayor of New York exercise eminent domain over Rockefeller Center by fiat and without compensation if he decides he’d like to move his office there?

[...]

That is, the Constitution protects these groups of rights-bearing individuals. The proposition that only human beings, standing alone, with no group affiliation whatsoever, are entitled to First Amendment protection — that “real people” lose some of their rights when they join together in groups of two or ten or fifty or 100,000 — is legally baseless and has no grounding in the Constitution.

In any event, as Chief Justice Roberts said in his Citizens United concurrence: “The First Amendment protects more than just the individual on a soapbox and the lonely pamphleteer.” Justice Scalia makes the same point, explaining that the text of the Constitution “makes no distinction between types of speakers.”
Hear, hear.

Also keep in mind that Citizens United wasn't about whether corporations were "persons" — it's about whether the government can ban a movie because they don't like its subject matter.

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