Corporate Social Responsibility

PR and the First Amendment

A fundamental right guarunteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution is the protection for freedom of expression free from government regulation. For many years, commercial advertising and corporate expression did not enjoy the same First Amendment protections from government regulation as did other forms of the media.

In an impact case, First National Bank of Boston v. Belloti, the United States Supreme Court struck down a law a Massachusetts statute that prohibited corporations from attempting to influence ballot referenda that did not related directly to their business.

The statute was ruled unconstitutional as violative of the First Amendment. Therefore, the Court made a step in the direction of establishing First Amendment rights for corporate expression.

Justice Powell delivered the opinion of the Court which stated, "If the speakers here were not corporations, no one would suggest that the State could silence their proposed speech. It is the type of speech indispensable to decision making in a democracy, and this is no less true because the speech comes from a corporation rather than an individual."

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