Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Stephen L. Carter ― Confederate Flags and the Citizens United Effect

The Yale law professor and writer for Bloomberg View writes:  "After the Charleston massacre, heads of companies from Apple to to Airbnb have called for the retiring of the Confederate battle flag that now flies over a memorial near the South Carolina state capitol. I think that’s grand. The flag is doomed, and I’ll be as delighted as anyone when it’s lowered for the final time. Yet this flurry of activity sparks a subversive thought: Suppose a South Carolina law prohibited corporations doing business in the state from challenging the flag. Would the law be unconstitutional?"
He continues his commentary: "The answer matters. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision inCitizens United v. Federal Election Commission, activists, academics and politicians have derided the majority’s conclusion that corporations possess a significant right to free speech under the First Amendment. Yet free speech would be the obvious ground that a company would cite in challenging the hypothetical South Carolina statute. After all, it is corporate speech that the law would be restricting."