The First Amendment protects freedom of speech. It says Congress “shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” etc.
The Founders assumed that individuals might sometimes combine to pursue common ends. Indeed, the First Amendment also safeguards our right of peaceable assembly, often called freedom of association. Obviously, we have this right not only up until the moment we assemble, but also even as we are assembling — even as we constitute a group pursuing a common cause.
In light of this, the gnashing of teeth over the Supreme Court’s expanding — really, recognizing — the right of persons in corporations to exercise freedom of speech seems silly. The rights of an individual, whether to utter a political thought, buy an ad or shop for groceries, do not disappear when he formally cooperates with others. But some persons regard corporations as such as morally suspect, and therefore properly subject to special restrictions.
An example is Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate of New York City. His official website lists non-media corporations that have not promised to gag themselves this campaign season. The website supplies the phone numbers of these companies so you can call to bemoan their offensive belief in reserving their rights.
Blogger Eugene Volokh has a different idea: Call de Blasio’s office to complain about his offensive belief in preemptive self-censorship. The number is (212) 669-7200. You can also send an email from the Public Advocate website.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.