Question: In your individual response post to the larger group, state whether you support the position of the other peer groups regarding the Citizens United decision in the case. If so, why? If not, why not? Be sure to provide detailed justification for your response and support in the way of scholarly research cited in APA style.


Should the First Amendment protect corporate political expression? Why or why not?

The 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court case ruled that the First Amendment protects corporate political expression.  The court concluded that US corporations are considered citizens, and that corporate spending could not be restricted for or against candidates. The majority opinion of the case laid out the argument for freedom of corporate political speech by framing restrictions as pathways to authoritarian censorship regimes. According to their arguments, our very democracy is threatened if anyone, even a separate legal entity like a corporation, is prevented from freely expressing their opinions (Steiner, 2011). Until that assessment by the Supreme Court changes, if it changes, or until a new Amendment is ratified changing the Constitution, this characterization of US corporations as US persons must be respected and upheld. Therefore, the rights of US corporations as US citizens, including the 1st Amendment, must be respected.

While the current legal opinion allows unlimited corporate money to flow into the election cycles, we personally believe this is a risky proposition that opens the door for massive corruption. Corporations are established as profit seeking organizations looking to maximize shareholder returns. They are created, not born, for economic purposes. As such, we do not agree with the interpretation of the 14th amendment that treats them the same as human beings that was established in Santa Clara County V. Southern Pacific RailRoad in 1886 (Pruitt, 2018).  As President Obama put it, treating corporations as people with the same political rights “open the floodgates for special interests—including foreign corporations—to spend without limit in our elections,” (Pruitt, 2018, par. 15). The immediate impact of the decision was clear, as corporate spending exploded in the election following the 2010 decision. Independent expenditures, which now had no limits for corporations, increased an astounding $700 million between 2010 and 2012 (Cillizza, 2019). Now, companies have the power and ability to produce massive information and propaganda campaigns that can bend the public will behind the company’s goals. While our personal opinions seem to support increased government regulation of corporate speech, we stand behind the law as it is written. Until such a time when the Supreme Court changes its precedents surrounding political speech or the federal government amends our founding document to clarify the limitations surrounding the 1st amendment, we accept the rulings applying the freedom of speech to the political activity of corporations.

If not, where should you draw the line for corporations between freedom and restrictions?

As American citizens, every individual member of a corporation has the rights of free political expression. Additionally, these citizens have the right to spend as much of their hard earned money as they would like on individual expenditures to Super PACs (FEC, 2019). This allows people to pool their money together to raise awareness and support for particular policies or interests. Corporations, although legally treated as people, are clearly not human. They are organizations made up of multitudes of individual employees working towards a common goal. As Justice John Paul Stevens put it, “Corporations…are not themselves members of ‘We the People’ by whom and for whom our Constitution was established,” (Pruitt, 2018, par.14) Since they were not considered or included in the founding constitution, corporations should not have inherent individual rights. When the First Amendment was drafted and ratified, the founders were not looking out for the free speech rights of big business. Therefore, modern day interpretations should not put words in the founder’s mouths and claim an extension of the rights to companies. If corporations are passionate about special interests, they are free to communicate the official business position to its employees, asking for voluntary contributions to the cause. They should not be able to bundle corporate resources on its own to politically protect its business interests. If their position is credible, their employees are free to use their first amendment rights as legal citizens to raise political awareness. Allowing corporations to exert financial influence on our election cycles is a dangerous proposition reeking of potential corruption. We would argue that this battle is best fought around redefining corporate entities in America. The Supreme Court must revisit the tertiary opinion from the 1886 case and rule that corporations are not people, and therefore are not entitled to the same rights (Pruitt, 2018). Until this occurs, big business will continue to dominate government, buying undue influence over the entire system, further entrenching their hold on power.

 If you were in charge of government relations at a business, what strategies would you now employ, in light of the Citizens United decision, to advance your position?

We are tempted ethically to remain neutral and keep our business away from PAC’s, since politics can be so volatile.  Choosing a side, especially in today’s climate will end up alienating some portion of customers, and that seems to run against attempts to reach the largest audience possible as a business.  However, given the current political and legal climate, our company would be at a significant disadvantage if we were not to engage in corporate political speech.

If we were in charge of government relations at a corporation following the Citizens United decision, we would immediately seek to increase our operating budget. We would request the resources needed to hire lobbyists to fight for our agenda in Washington. We would identify candidates in vulnerable districts and target them for our influence campaigns. In addition to running special-interest ads in his or her district, we would reach out directly to the legislator, setting up a meeting to discuss corporate positions on various issues relevant to the firm and congressional district. While winning over public support through information campaigns, our team would work behind the scenes to draft favorable legislation to present to government officials. Using the results of the ad campaign, such as polls showing changing public opinion or increases in related political activity, we would push the politicians to bring the legislation to the floor, creating our company’s own political insider and representative. Finally, we would direct resources towards funding industry special interest groups that are dedicated to advocating for pro-company policies. Through these strategies of political spending, the corporation would gain significant influence over the lawmaking process and help promote company interests to the front of the line of political priority. Until such a time when the legal interpretations of corporations are redefined, our team would work intensely through the established procedures to legally exert influence over the political system to advance our company’s interests.

Group 4 Post

Four out of the six people in our group believe that the First Amendment should protect corporations and their political agendas. The other two argued valiantly that corporations are inanimate objects and shouldn’t have a say in politics. Because politics have a large affect on companies and how they do business the majority of our group felt that having a collective say in political figures being elected is very important. On the flip side, it seems that most corporations are also only ever advocating to benefit their corporation and it really does not have anything to do with the companies morals or ethics (Steiner & Steiner, 2012). This is important in regard for the argument against the First Amendment protecting corporations because benefits for a corporation don’t always coincide with the company’s ethical standards.

Some lines that those argued should be drawn for corporations between freedom and restrictions included: giving shareholders a say, use independent companies to oversee decisions, and mandate detailed and robust disclosure to shareholders. Shareholders being the integral part of the implementations that would be used in order to keep corporations in check. A great example used in the text is the Hillary case specifically because it was decided that the timing was the largest problem the the company faced. “Justice Stevens began by observing that Citizens United had been free to show Hillary as much as it wanted anytime except 30 or 60 days before elections. Using its political action committee, it could have even shown it at those time. So there was no speech ban” (Steiner & Steiner, 2012, p. 313). This indicates the the Citizens United could have used the loopholes in place at the time and furthered their agenda but did not. The rules in place that allows corporations to campaign more than 60 days before and election and use political action committees are very good lines to draw in order to keep the balance between corporate freedom of speech and restriction.

As a group we collectively decided that educating ourselves on the politicians and what they could do for our corporation was the best first step. After this we would work to forward the company’s agenda and using the budgeted company money to do so. Some ideas that were brought up were looking for legal loopholes to further the company’s agenda, working with candidates to see what corporate money would be used for, use a legal and compliance team to ensure expenditures were legal, and be very careful of the arguments and messages that are put out there. Another final thing that was important to note was the need for shareholder involvement and approval of the messages that were being sent to the public.

Group 3 Post

Should the First Amendment protect corporate political expression? Why or why not?

The topic of corporate political expression is a very sensitive matter for many individuals, and I believe that this question can have both a yes or no response. I do strongly support the idea that individuals should have the right and the freedom to express their views, opinions, and thoughts. Even though massive organizations or corporations are not considered to be individuals, these organizations are both run and owned by individuals. I do not believe that it is the corporation, itself, expressing opinions, but rather it is the opinions of the individuals that run these organizations, that are being heard and established. I firmly agree, in reference to our text, that speech should not be eliminated, or banned, because of the speaker’s identity or the amount of wealth that they possess (Steiner & Steiner, 2012, p. 313). However, a corporation’s ability to do so should be regulated. “Political speech [is manifested] in the form of contributions and expenditures on behalf of candidates.” (Ferguson III, n.d.) If corporations have the same First Amendment protections for political expression as American citizens, this could “undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation.”


If not, where should you draw the line for corporations between freedom and restrictions?

Drawing a line for corporations between freedom of political expression and restrictions on contributions and expenditures is extremely difficult. Since it’s difficult to put a monetary cap on when a company contributes too much to a campaign, transparency is key. Even if a company contributes a large amount of money to a politician and a campaign, stating who paid for an advertisement or disclosing donors during a campaign allows for transparency with voters, so the public can know who is funding their politician and, potentially where lobbying could become an issue. In an article from Harvard Law School, “A new bill that has been introduced in the House would direct the SEC to issue regs to require public companies to disclose political expenditures in their annual reports and on their websites.” (Posner, 2019) This is another way for consumers to have a better sense of the companies they are buying from and their political affiliations. It also gives Congress an idea of when lobbying could interfere too much with the decision making of politics and when one company could have too much say over a politician because of their donations. Transparency could also keep a politician from making deals and decisions simply because of a donor and instead keeping their head above water and making the decision that is best for their district or state.

One of the elements protected by the First Amendment is freedom of “individual” expression, speech, and press (FindLaw, n.d.). However, the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) ruled that the federal government cannot limit corporation’s contributions towards political campaigns (Kille, 2015). This means that corporations can give unlimited amounts of funds towards a political party but not the individual running for federal office (Kille, 2015). The funds are given to Super Political Action Committees (PACs) where the money is accepted and used to influence the outcome of a political election (McCamy, 2018). The money donated is not regulated and there is no cap on the amount. The funds are typically used for ads, broadcasts, or whatever is needed to communicate and satisfy the political objective (McCamy, 2018). Unfortunately, while corporate political expression helps political parties expand its reach, it also gives an unfair advantage and increases the possibility of corruption between government regulators and corporations.

The issue with drawing a line for corporations between freedom and restrictions is that corporations always find a way to create and expose a loophole. However, my understanding is that freedom of expression is violated when there is an attempt of interference on expression deemed appropriate by the constitution. The larger the corporation, the greater an influence it could have on voters and even regulators. It could be dangerous for corporations to have the freedom to contribute unlimited dollars towards a political candidate.  I found it interesting that after leaving their organization, 1 in 10 CEOs end up holding a political position.  According to the study by Coates, the political activity could cause many managers to lose focus on their business, and as a result, fail to focus on the core business and alternatively, spend money on investments that may not enhance the business itself but the political agenda of their CEO.  In many cases, this has resulted in the organization losing value (Coates, 2012).  The other issues that stands out is the protection of the shareholders.  If corporations are allowed to spend their money on supporting a candidate or using their money to discredit a candidate, they are not using the funds to create value for their shareholders, and this is where regulation is necessary because it the company’s actions effect so many others.

If you were in charge of government relations at a business, what strategies would you now employ, in light of the Citizens United decision, to advance your position?

If I were in charge of government relations at a business, presumably a large one, the strategies I would employ would be to the benefit of my stakeholders. The obvious idea would be to support those politicians who have similar interests to my corporation. The risk is angering other politicians that could lead to backlash from politicians and perhaps the public. This is probably not the most ethical way of doing things, but forming PACs is a great way to contribute to politics without sticking your neck out directly. I could suggest PACs that currently exist and have similar interests. I say that it is not the most ethical because I do not personally feel that this is in the public’s interest. Nonetheless, I would develop strategies that would invoke discussion on current laws affecting operations, employee healthcare, imports and exports, and foreign business relationships. Also, I would ensure to develop strategies that would give movement to the corporation’s social and environmental responsibility agenda. Rather than placing spotlight on a certain politician, I would bring to light certain issues that could be potentially impacted by the outcome of the election. In addition, I would employ certain strategies to advance my position.  Given that it is now legal for corporations to allocate unlimited funds to support a candidate, I would put myself in a position to understand what the leaders of my corporation would like to achieve in the next election and ensure that I represent their interests to the appropriate parties.


Citizens United vs. FEC. (2019, January 24). Retrieved from

Coates IV, J. C. (2012). Corporate Politics, Governance, and Value Before and After Citizen United. Retrieved from:

Ferguson III, C. (n.d.). Corporate Speech. In The First Amendment Encyclopedia. Retrieved November 19, 2019, from

First Amendment – Religion and Expression. Retrieved on 2019 November 20. Retrieved from

Kille, L. W. (2015). Corporate speech and the First Amendment: History, data and implications. Retrieved from

McCamy, L. (2018). Companies donate millions to political causes to have a say in the government — here are 10 that have given the most in 2018. Retrieved from

Posner, C. (2019, March 17). Is it Time for Corporate Political Spending Disclosure? Retrieved from

Steiner, J.F., & Steiner, G.A. (2012). Business, government and society:  A managerial perspective; text and cases, 13th Ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Subramanian, G., Bebchuk, L. A., & Jackson, R. J. (2010, November 19). Corporate Political Speech: Who Decides? Retrieved from