Alito on Citizens United

BLT reports that Justice Samuel Alito addressed criticisms of the Supreme Court’s Citzens United decision in a speech at the Federalist Society’s annual lawyers’ convention in Washington, D.C. on Thursday night.

Alito said arguments can be made for overturning Citizens United, but not the popular one that boils down to one line: Corporations shouldn’t get free speech rights like a person.

“It is pithy, it fits on a bumper sticker, and in fact a variety of bumper stickers are available,” Alito told a crowd of about 1,400 at The Federalist Society’s annual dinner. He cited two: “End Corporate Personhood,” and “Life does not begin at incorporation.”

Then Alito pointed out the same people do not question the First Amendment rights of media corporations in cases like The New York Times Co. v. Sullivan [and] the Pentagon papers case. If corporations did not have free speech rights, newspapers would lose such cases, he said. . . .

Alito said the real issue is whether free speech rights “should be limited to certain preferred corporations, namely those media organizations.” And with the proliferation of the Internet and social media, the line is getting more blurry between individuals and media, he said.

According to the report Alito also recounted some of his experiences at Yale Law School, including his constitutional law class with Charles Reich.