Arlington, Va.—The Institute for Justice, which filed an amicus brief on the side of Citizens United in the U.S. Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, issued the following statements after attending today’s U.S. Supreme Court argument:
“Based on today’s argument, free speech advocates can be optimistic for a broad vindication of First Amendment rights,” said IJ Senior Attorney Steve Simpson. “Several justices recognized that a piecemeal approach to free speech is insufficient to protect vital constitutional rights. As Chief Justice Roberts said, ‘We don’t put our First Amendment rights in the hands of FEC bureaucrats.’”
Simpson said, “Corporate speech bans are nothing more than government censorship of selected speakers. The simple fact is it takes money, including corporate money, to speak up and be heard. Under the First Amendment, the government has no business deciding which speakers gain admittance to the marketplace of ideas.”
“Freeing corporate speech will lead to what more speech always leads to—a debate,” said Simpson. “Wal-Mart will support President Obama’s health care reform, as it has done, but the National Retail Federation will oppose it, as it has done. Chrysler may well speak out in support of candidates who won it favorable bankruptcy treatment, but Chrysler’s institutional investors will also be able to criticize those same politicians for destroying the value of their bonds. Corporations do not speak with one voice any more than individuals do.”
“It’s not the government’s job to protect us from ideas, even those backed by people and groups with great resources, good ideas or other tools of persuasion,” concluded Simpson. “People either agree with speech or they do not, but they are able to make up their own minds. The Court should open the floodgates to speech and let the people decide.”
Last week, the Institute for Justice issued a list of top ten political advocacy books that, like “Hillary: The Movie,” could be banned.
IJ’s Citizens United brief is available at www.ij.org/citizensunited.