The Modern Corporation and Political Thought
The significant aspects of the statement under analysis state that corporate speech should be regulated in all elections because only such action can protect the rights of real citizens to participate equally in a democratic political system. In addition, it states this theory is entirely consistent with the theory of modern corporation law. In fact, modern corporation law appears to be moving toward greater recognition of corporate autonomy and greater treatment of corporations as private citizens whose internal decisions should not be interfered with, a theory inconsistent with the belief corporate speech should be regulated. However, recent decisions by the Supreme Court also recognize corporations can in fact be distinguished from individual citizens and regulation of corporate speech is an acceptable way to protect the political process.
In a capitalist economy like the United States, corporations play a fundamental role in economic and political life. Because of the emphasis on corporate activity, a democratic government is understandably hesitant to interfere in corporate management and administration. What this has come to mean in the United States is that corporations largely enjoy the same constitutional protections as individual citizens. For example, in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti 435 U.S. 765 (1978), the Supreme Court held corporations have the same constitutional rights under the First Amendment as individual citizens (Powell, J., 1978). Specifically, the Court stated the government cannot dictate the subjects about which people may speak and who may address a public issue and protected speech does not lose that protection because its source is a corporation that cannot prove a material effect on its business or property (Powell, J., 1978).
Bellotti suggests private corporations will be recognized and treated by the law the same as individual ci...