Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Center/Program

Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership

Abstract

The Supreme Court spoke clearly this Term on the issue of corporate political speech, concluding in Citizens United v. FEC' that the First Amendment protects corporations' freedom to spend corporate funds on indirect support of political candidates. 2 Constitutional law scholars will long debate the wisdom of that holding, as do the authors of the two other Comments in this issue.3 In contrast, this Comment accepts as given that corporations may not be limited from spending money on politics should they decide to speak. We focus instead on an important question left unanswered by Citizens United: who should have the power to decide whether a corporation will engage in political speech?

Under existing law, a corporation's decision to engage in political speech is governed by the same rules as ordinary business decisions, which give directors and executives virtually plenary authority. In this Comment, we argue that such rules are inappropriate for corporate political speech decisions. Instead, lawmakers should develop special rules to govern who may make political speech decisions on behalf of corporations. We analyze the types of rules that lawmakers should consider. We also offer a set of proposals, and policymaking considerations, for designing such rules.

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