Santa Monica -- Consumer advocate Jamie Court today called upon Congress to pass a resolution acknowledging that the constitution does not grant corporations free speech rights and that commercial speech is not protected under the bill of rights as political and religious speech is. The call came in response to another federal judge invalidating the 'do not call' list.
In his book "Corporateering: How Corporate Power Steals Your Personal Freedom And What You Can Do About It" (Tarcher/Putnam), Court shows how corporations have only begun gaining constitutionally-protected free speech rights during the last two decades -- what he calls the Age of the Corporateer.Ã‚Â Court, who Publisher's Weekly says is "keeping the muckraking tradition alive," writes that corporations were no mentioned in the constitution and were never meant to be given the same free speech rights as individuals.
That was a result, Court's research shows, of conscious attempt by the Chamber of Commerce and others since the mid-1970s to promote an expansion of corporations' rights in the courts. Court's book points a 1971 memo by the Chamber documenting this phenomenon.
"If Congress wants to make sure telemarketers do not call it must resolve that the founders did not give corporationsÃ‚Â first amendment rights to free speech that can trump an individual's right to privacy or any other freedom," said Court, also the executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica. "Congress must weigh in with the courts on the larger question of why corporations should not have free speech rights. Otherwise big industries will continue to nullify not just the 'do not call' list but anti-spam statutes, anti-door-to-door solicitation laws, and campaign finance reforms as well. Congress should act as resolutely on the larger question of limiting corporations' commercial speech rights as it did quickly on the 'do not call' list."
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