Location

Northwestern College, Rowenhorst Student Center

Description

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, then-President Obama declared in his 2010 State of the Union Address that the Court had “reversed a century of law” in overturning limitations on independent corporate expenditures. In one sense, this is clearly true. The Tillman Act, passed in 1907 at the urging of Theodore Roosevelt, marked the first legislative attempt to limit the influence of corporations in political elections.

In a larger sense, however, Citizens United served as the culmination of two hundred years of jurisprudence defining the rights of the corporate person. Starting from the ancient origins of corporate personality, this project traces the bases for Citizens United through a series of landmark cases, from Chief Justice Marshall’s famous description of the corporation in Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodard (1819) to the twin pillars of Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978). Further, in doing so, it seeks to demonstrate that the standards established in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) were rightly overturned in Citizens United, as said standards were fundamentally out-of-step with the principles of corporate rights and First Amendment protection outlined by the Court in centuries prior.

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Apr 12th, 11:00 AM Apr 12th, 1:00 PM

Social Capital: Corporate Personality, Political Campaign Expenditures, and the First Amendment

Northwestern College, Rowenhorst Student Center

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, then-President Obama declared in his 2010 State of the Union Address that the Court had “reversed a century of law” in overturning limitations on independent corporate expenditures. In one sense, this is clearly true. The Tillman Act, passed in 1907 at the urging of Theodore Roosevelt, marked the first legislative attempt to limit the influence of corporations in political elections.

In a larger sense, however, Citizens United served as the culmination of two hundred years of jurisprudence defining the rights of the corporate person. Starting from the ancient origins of corporate personality, this project traces the bases for Citizens United through a series of landmark cases, from Chief Justice Marshall’s famous description of the corporation in Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodard (1819) to the twin pillars of Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978). Further, in doing so, it seeks to demonstrate that the standards established in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) were rightly overturned in Citizens United, as said standards were fundamentally out-of-step with the principles of corporate rights and First Amendment protection outlined by the Court in centuries prior.

 

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