Environment And Society
Does the right to free speech extend to corporations?
The right of freedom of speech is an integral part of the Constitutional Rights of America, which refers to the right each individual citizen of America enjoys for freely voicing his or her or her opinions, ideas and views without the fear of punishment by the government for the same. This law has been created as per the First Amendment to the US Constitution that prevents the government from creating any law that can interfere with the individual rights of the US people’s freedom of speech. However, although individual citizens are being offered the freedom of speech, the same does not hold true for the US corporations (Coates, 2015). However, the Constitution as well as the recent amendments provides freedom rights to the US citizens only, and the same is not being extended to the US corporations and business organizations. This essay intends to argue that the corporations are nothing but the collections of people, and hence they should be granted the same rights that are being offered to the individual US citizens.
During the 2008 political campaign of USA, a movie was being released, named Hillary: The Movie, that intended to portray Hillary Clinton in a negative light and discouraged the audience to vote for her. As part of the election campaign, it aired facts and opinions that undoubtedly tried to malign the reputation of Hillary, and thereby dissuade a majority of voters from voting in favour of her. Although this was not being deemed to be ethical by the Congress, it is undeniable that the political parties as an assemblage of people enjoy the right to spread their opinions and inform the voters so that they can choose wisely whom to vote for. The books published that ventilate a negative opinion about a political persona, are not prohibited from publication, and hence the movies released as part of the political agenda cannot be objected (Liptak, 2014). Besides, it should also be remembered that the media houses such as the newspaper publishing companies are exempted from any form of ban as they go about spending money to urge and convince the readers to vote in favour of a specific political party. It should be remembered that most of the critics claim that in absence f any kind of constraints, the giant business corporations will end up spending exorbitant amount of money for helping or hurting the politicians (Clements, 2015). However, in reality, it should be remembered that the retail giants such as Microsoft and Apple will never be plunging into divisive election campaigns for the fear of antagonizing the consumers. However, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 forbade corporations from engaging in “electioneering communication” within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. However, it is undeniable that the rule violated its free speech rights (Joo, 2015).
It should be remembered that each corporation should be offered the right to speak, as speaking does not essentially mean controlling or influencing the political process, but it simply implies granting rights to the corporations so that they can opine their views clearly which the public can easily reject, if they want. Hence, the corporations should be allowed to speak about politics as they speak about the products, but the people would still have the right to say no.
Clements, J. D. (2014). Corporations are not people: Reclaiming democracy from big money and global corporations. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Coates IV, J. C. (2015). Corporate speech & the First Amendment: history, data, and implications. Const. Comment., 30, 223.
Joo, T. W. (2015). Corporate Speech and the Rights of Others.
Liptak, A. (2014). Supreme Court rejects contraceptives mandate for some corporations. New York Times.
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