After the Supreme Court torpedoed restrictions on political speech by corporations, foes of the First Amendment bitterly denounced its Citizens United v. FEC decision.
They don’t consider themselves enemies of freedom of speech, of course. Instead, they think the Court erred by assuming that corporations have First Amendment rights. They say corporations aren’t people; they can’t have rights.
But hey: Corporations — non-profit or for profit — are actually made up of people.
One corporation denouncing free speech for other corporations is The New York Times. Their angry editorial states, “The Constitution . . . mentions many things and assigns them rights and protections — the people, militias, the press, religions. But it does not mention corporations.”
First, the Constitution does not assign any rights to “press” or “religion.” It forbids Congress from abridging individuals’ freedom of the press, freedom of religion.
Second, the Constitution doesn’t exhaustively list relevant institutions. The drafters thought everybody knew that one way we exercise their rights is to organize, cooperatively, into groups — à la freedom of association.
Media corporations have been exempt from limits on campaign spending and political speech. The Times group editorial mind ignores this contradiction. They’re saying, “Our corporate speech is special and worthy of constitutional protection! We’re sincere and good! Members of other corporations, by contrast, can’t be trusted! Therefore, the First Amendment does not apply to them!”
Insist all you like, Mr. Times. You’re still wrong.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.