Shareholders can determine whether their corporations political speech advances

Shareholders can determine whether their corporations

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Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected offi- cials are “‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.” 540 U. S., at 259 (opinion of S CALIA , J.); see MCFL , supra , at 261. The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages. C For the same reasons we uphold the application of BCRA §§201 and 311 to the ads, we affirm their applica- tion to Hillary . We find no constitutional impediment to the application of BCRA’s disclaimer and disclosure re-
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56 CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMM’N Opinion of the Court quirements to a movie broadcast via video-on-demand. And there has been no showing that, as applied in this case, these requirements would impose a chill on speech or expression. V When word concerning the plot of the movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington reached the circles of Government, some officials sought, by persuasion, to discourage its distribution. See Smoodin, “Compulsory” Viewing for Every Citizen: Mr. Smith and the Rhetoric of Reception, 35 Cinema Journal 3, 19, and n. 52 (Winter 1996) (citing Mr. Smith Riles Washington, Time, Oct. 30, 1939, p. 49); Nugent, Capra’s Capitol Offense, N. Y. Times, Oct. 29, 1939, p. X5. Under Austin , though, officials could have done more than discourage its distribution—they could have banned the film. After all, it, like Hillary, was speech funded by a corporation that was critical of Mem- bers of Congress. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington may be fiction and caricature; but fiction and caricature can be a powerful force. Modern day movies, television comedies, or skits on Youtube.com might portray public officials or public poli- cies in unflattering ways. Yet if a covered transmission during the blackout period creates the background for candidate endorsement or opposition, a felony occurs solely because a corporation, other than an exempt media corporation, has made the “purchase, payment, distribu- tion, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value” in order to engage in political speech. 2 U. S. C. §431(9)(A)(i). Speech would be suppressed in the realm where its necessity is most evident: in the public dialogue preceding a real election. Governments are often hostile to speech, but under our law and our tradition it seems stranger than fiction for our Government to make this political speech a crime. Yet this is the statute’s purpose
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57 Cite as: 558 U. S. ____ (2010) Opinion of the Court and design. Some members of the public might consider Hillary to be insightful and instructive; some might find it to be neither high art nor a fair discussion on how to set the Nation’s course; still others simply might suspend judg- ment on these points but decide to think more about issues and candidates. Those choices and assessments, however, are not for the Government to make.
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