Corporations Hiding Dirty Secrets Behind Free Speech Claims May Soon Have To Admit Bloody Hands

A “surprising turn of events”, starting with a series of conflicting rulings by the federal courts, is setting a new legal stage that will require U.S. corporations to admit to “blood on their hands” to their consumers and investors.

This week, Free Speech For People joined Global Witness in filing a brief that pushes back on corporate claims that requiring the labeling of products as “conflict-free” violates commercial free speech rights.

Alternet.org interviewed our legal director, Ron Fein and Carly Oboth of Global Witness to discuss what the Court’s latest ruling means for corporate First Amendment claims and the public’s right to information.

Fein explains, “the heart of this case concerns whether unethical corporate behavior can be kept from the public and consumer.”

“This is information that corporations have asymmetrical access to,” he said. “They have a much greater ability to find out if their mines in the Congo are controlled by warlords than do the public and their investors. This is information that only they can provide. The real implication of their claims is they don’t want the public to have this information.”

Carly Oboth continues, “The case comes down to whether corporations will succeed in convincing the court that they are people whose free speech rights are being violated,” she said. “If they succeed, let’s be very clear about the consequences: this posture would undermine a law designed to alleviate the very real suffering of actual people living in central Africa.”

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