1st Amendment for Businesses?

I hear it spread by word of mouth, but what’s the SD? While the founding fathers of the US give rights to citizens, since when did these rights apply to businesses (other than freedom of the press)? What landmark decision gave US constitutional rights to businesses?

Look at this story on a case involving NYC’s fast food restaurants as one example and explain how the fast food industry can cite the 1st Amendment?

  • Jinx :confused:

The Constitution talks about “persons” in the Bill of Rights. Corporations are rightly viewed in one of two ways: as a “person,” or as a collection of “persons.” If you were to tell McDonalds, for example, that it had no “freedom of speech,” you would, in essence, be saying to the persons that own the company that their right to speak freely ended somehow when they banded together in a corporation.

That’s a very brief and un-legal-like answer (meaning not all formal and full of citations) and I apologize for that, but until my morning mid-term is over, I don’t have time to make it right. Still, it is a good paradigm for thinking about it.

  1. It’s the First Amendment, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The First Amendment on its face only applies to Congress, and doesn’t really say who has the rights in question:
  1. The Fourteenth Amendment talks about persons and citizens:

There is some dispute about whether it was intended to incorporate the First Amendment. http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mfreereligion.htm (not to mention a dispute about whether the Constitution should be applied as it was originally understood, or even whether that is a meaningful concept).

  1. The Supreme Court has long held that Corporations are persons under the Fourteenth Amendment.

Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233, 244 (1936)

Trustees of Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) and Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886) are the cases that together give corporations constitutional rights generally.

By the way, note that the actual decision rested on conflict with Federal law, not Constitutional law.

Yes. It was more like Lorrillard, I think, which involved federal preemption. http://www.law.uh.edu/healthlaw/perspectives/PublicHealth/010817Federal.html
This is from a discussion of federal preemption of state anti-GM food laws:


The same article says:

Thanks, Gfactor, I was about to look for a general cite that the Due Process Clause applies to corporations for a brief I’m working on, and goofing off on the SDMB actually saved me some real work time for once.

It’s worked for me more than once. Glad to help.