Fullscreen
Loading...
 
[Show/Hide Left Column]
[Show/Hide Right Column]

First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti

First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765 (1978).

Facts: A Massachusetts statute prevented corporations from engaging in political spending in the context of referendum proposals. An exception was made under the statute where corporations could engage in such spending if the proposal directly impacted their material interests. The United States Supreme Court granted cert on the question of whether this statute’s speech restrictions ran afoul of the First Amendment.

Issue: Did this statute’s speech restrictions on corporations run afoul of the First Amendment?

Held: Yes. Justice Powell wrote that it matters not whether the “speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual.” 435 U.S. at 777. Rather, what is relevant to the Court’s inquiry is whether the speech itself is “inherently worthy” of first amendment protection. Id. Powell concluded that corporations should not be prevented or barred from participating in public debates and the public discourse with respect to “governmental affairs.” Id. Powell flatly rejected the idea that the government could “disqualify” corporations from speaking on certain matters of public concern. He noted as follows: "In the realm of protected speech, the legislature is constitutionally disqualified from dictating the subjects about which persons may speak and the speakers who may address a public issue. If a legislature may direct business corporations to ‘stick to business,’ it also may limit other corporations—religious, charitable, or civic—to their respective ‘business’ when addressing the public. Such power in government to channel the expression of views is unacceptable under the First Amendment." Id. at 785-86.



Portions © 2006-2011 by Michael Risch, Some Rights Reserved | Copyright Notice| Legal Disclaimer