Fec vs. Citizens United Essay

1275 Words Oct 23rd, 2012 6 Pages
September 25, 2012

Federal Election Commission v. Citizens United

The First Amendment has been one of the most controversial issues surrounding the Constitutions since its ratification in 1787. The First Amendment states, “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.” Many people disagree on the extent of power the First Amendment actually has on the right to free speech. One of the most controversial issues surrounding the First Amendment is how much influence a company can have over elections and
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Professor Stephen Bainbridge states, “The idea that a corporation is a legal person with constitutional rights is, of course, a controversial one. Some commentators argue that it's bad policy. In my view, however, it is a well-settled principle of US constitutional law and justifiably so. The legislative history of the Fourteenth Amendment suggests that Congress substituted the word ''person'' for the word ''citizen'' precisely so that the provisions so affected would protect not just natural persons but also legal persons, such as corporations, from oppressive legislation.”
Justice Scalia addressed the right of free speech concerning both profit and non-profit corporations.
“The Amendment is written in terms of “speech,” not speakers. Its text offers no foothold for excluding any category of speakers, from single individuals to partnerships of individuals, to unincorporated associations of individuals, to incorporated associations of individuals…Indeed, to exclude or impede corporate speech is to muzzle the principal agents of the modern free economy. We should celebrate rather than condemn the addition of this speech to the public debate.”
The dissent focuses on the idea that corporations are not people, and therefore the right of free speech should not apply to them. Justice John Paul Stevens stated that the court’s ruling threatened “to undermine the integrity of