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NYT takes on Alito's definition of 'free speech


While Team Obama has touted the results of the election as proof that money "can't buy the White House," the New York Times is continuing its argument against the 2010 Citizens United case.

Speaking at the Federalist Society in Washington last week Justice Alito argued in defense of the court's decision. He said just as the press (largely owned by corporations) is given widespread protection under the First Amendment, free speech extends to all corporations.

NYT editorialized today:

... Justice Alito’s argument wrongly confuses the matter. It is not the corporate structure of media companies that makes them deserving of constitutional protection. It is their function — the vital role that the press plays in American democracy — that sets them apart. In Citizens United, by a 5-to-4 vote, the court ruled that the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, in limiting the amount that organizations could spend, severely restricted First Amendment rights. The law’s purpose and effect, according to the court, was to keep unions and most corporations from conveying facts and opinions to the public, though it exempted media corporations.

But the majority got that backward. The point of the law was to protect the news media’s freedom of speech and not the legal form that they happened to be organized under. ...

The Citizens United majority never explained why any corporation that does not have a press function warrants the same free speech rights as a person. Neither did Justice Alito. Meanwhile, the false equivalence of money and speech put forward by Citizens United and the money it unleashed is wreaking havoc in our politics.

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