– Re: FREE SPEECH - FIRST AMENDMENT
In Reply To
CITIZENS UNITED v. FEC, U.S. Supreme Court, decided 1-21-10
If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech. If the antidistortion rationale were to be accepted, however, it would permit Government to ban political speech simply because the speaker is an association that has taken on the corporate form. The Government contends that Austin permits it to ban corporate expenditures for almost all forms of communication stemming from a corporation. See Part II-E, supra; Tr. of Oral Arg. 66 (Sept. 9, 2009); see also id., at 26-31 (Mar. 24, 2009). If Austin were correct, the Government could prohibit a corporation from expressing political views in media beyond those presented here, such as by printing books. The Government responds "that the FEC has never applied this statute to a book," and if it did, "there would be quite [a] good as-applied challenge." Tr. of Oral Arg. 65 (Sept. 9, 2009). This troubling assertion of brooding governmental power cannot be reconciled with the confidence and stability in civic discourse that the First Amendment must secure.
Political speech is "indispensable to decision making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual." Bellotti, 435 U. S., at 777 (footnote omitted); see ibid. (the worth of speech "does not depend upon the identity of its source, whether corporation, association, union, or individual"); Buckley, 424 U. S., at 48-49 ("[T]he concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment"); Automobile Workers, 352 U. S., at 597 (Douglas, J., dissenting); CIO, 335 U. S., at 154-155 (Rutledge, J., concurring in result). This protection for speech is inconsistent with Austin's antidistortion rationale. Austin sought to defend the antidistortion rationale as a means to prevent corporations from obtaining " 'an unfair advantage in the political marketplace' " by using " 'resources amassed in the economic marketplace.' " 494 U. S., at 659 (quoting MCFL, supra, at 257). But Buckley rejected the premise that the Government has an interest "in equalizing the relative ability of individuals and groups to influence the outcome of elections." 424 U. S., at 48; see Bellotti, supra, at 791, n. 30. Buckley was specific in stating that "the skyrocketing cost of political campaigns" could not sustain the governmental prohibition. 424 U. S., at 26. The First Amendment's protections do not depend on the speaker's "financial ability to engage in public discussion." Id., at 49.
See case's for 'time, place and manner' as well, relative to the First Amendment and Free speech.
"If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech". Accordingly, the converse of this is also true.