Tag Free Speech

Free Expression and Expressness

Charlotte Taylor

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Citizens United and the Paradox of “Corporate Speech”: From Freedom of Association to Freedom of The Association

Wayne Batchis

Electoral “Exceptionalism” and the First Amendment: A Road Paved with Good Intentions

Geoffrey R. Stone

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Nonparticipatory Association and Compelled Political Speech: Consent as a Constitutional Principle in the Wake of Citizens United

Frances R. Hill


In Citizens United, the Supreme Court put non-participatory association and compelled political speech at the heart of campaign finance jurisprudence. In so doing, the Court changed the relationship between organizations and their members by amplifying the political-speech rights of corporations and constraining the associational and political-speech rights of members and shareholders. Members and shareholders no longer have an effective means of giving or withholding consent to the political decisions made by organization managers. Many will find that the money they contributed to or invested in an organization is being used to finance political speech with which they may not agree.

The majority opinion in Citizens United does not address this profound change in the scope of managerial discretion as an element of freedom of association. Furthermore, the Court never asked whether shareholders and members should be considered speakers with protected First Amendment rights. This deficiency is partially a result of the fact that current jurisprudence of association has not acknowledged the rights of those who associate as separate from that of the association to which they belong.

This article explores the relationship between non-participatory association and compelled speech through a framework based on consent as a constitutional principle. The author argues not only that we should treat consent as a constitutional principle, but also that a theory of association consistent with such a principle should consider associations as both entities and aggregates. The author analyzes Citizens United in terms of the failure of associational consent and discusses potential remedies to that failure.

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