Advancing A New Jurisprudence For American Self-Government And Democracy

Harvard Law School, November 2014

On November 7, 2014, in partnership with Harvard Law School and Harvard Law Professor John Coates, a leading corporate law expert in the country, we convened our first symposium, entitled “Advancing a New Jurisprudence for American Self-Government and Democracy.” We brought together prominent constitutional law professors and attorneys interested in creating new scholarship and legal arguments challenging the doctrines underlying the Citizens United, McCutcheon, and Buckley rulings.  The symposium included welcoming remarks by Harvard Law Dean Martha Minow, a public keynote by Senator Jon Tester of Montana, and four invitation-only panels on the following subjects:

  • Money in Politics and Democracy
  • Corporations and the First Amendment
  • Constitutional Dimensions of Corporate Law
  • Moving Beyond Citizens United and Hobby Lobby

The symposium was followed by a special publication of key papers in Constitutional Commentary, the most prestigious law journal focusing on constitutional law, and now serves as an important vehicle for educating the legal community and the public at large about the threat these doctrines present to our democracy and the work we must do to overturn them.

This is the first in a series of such convenings which will help amplify and organize voices of dissent within the legal community.

Is the SpeechNow Ruling Vulnerable?

Harvard Law School, November 2015

On November 16, 2015, Free Speech For People and Harvard Law also hosted a symposium on, “Ending Super PACs: Is the SpeechNow ruling vulnerable?” The forum examined the case of SpeechNow, how a potential challenge could be crafted, and how overruling SpeechNow could affect Super PACs and campaign financing. The panel featured: Mark Alexander of Seton Hall Law School, Albert Alschuler of University of Chicago Law School, and Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School. Renée Loth, columnist & former editorial page editor of The Boston Globe, moderated the conversation.

Corporations, the Constitution and Democracy

Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, California, November 2015

Free Speech For People and Loyola Law School cohosted a symposium on “Corporations, the Constitution and Democracy” on November 20, 2015. The event featured two panels, “The Future of Corporate Constitutional Rights Litigation and Theory” and “Democracy, Corporations and Money In Politics.” The Honorable Leo E. Strine, Jr., Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court delivered closing remarks, Corporate Power Ratchet: The Courts’ Role in Eroding “We the People’s” Ability to Constrain Our Corporate Creations.

View the videos of the symposium and full list of speakers

Democracy by the People: Reforming Campaign Finance in America Today

Seton Hall Law School, April 2016

On April 1, 2016, Free Speech For People and Seton Hall School of Law co-hosted a symposium titled, “Democracy by the People: Reforming Campaign Finance in America Today.”

The event featured an impressive list of academics and members of the campaign finance reform community.  A full list of speakers is available here.

The symposium consisted of four panels: “Defining the Problem,” “Policy Proposals within the Existing Jurisprudence,” “Policy Proposals Outside the Existing Legal Regime,” and “A New Court and a Restored Constitution.” A keynote address was delivered by Justice Cheri Beasley of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

View the video of the four panels and Justice Beasley’s keynote

The ideas presented at that symposium led to a book, edited by Professors Eugene Mazo and Timothy Kuhner, Democracy by the People: Reforming Campaign Finance in America, now out from Cambridge University Press. Click below to read a complimentary copy of our Legal Director Ron Fein’s chapter: Fixing the Supreme Court’s Mistake: The Case for the Twenty-Eighth Amendment.

Read a Chapter from Democracy by the People!

Corporate Political Spending and Foreign Influence

Harvard Law School, April 2018

On April 3, 2018, Free Speech For People organized a lunchtime panel at Harvard Law School. Legal Director Ron Fein joined Harvard Law School Professors John Coates and Charles Fried for the lunchtime forum event, Corporate Political Spending and Foreign Influence. The speaker discussed foreign influence in elections, how Citizens United opens the door to foreign influence through corporate political spending, and innovative legislative solutions (starting with our groundbreaking legislation in St. Petersburg, FL) to address political spending by foreign-influenced corporations.

Developing New Scholarship and Building Support For Our New Jurisprudence

Upon completion of our 2014 Harvard Law Symposium, key scholars and legal experts advanced our ways of understanding corporate constitutional rights through extensive research and analysis.

In February 2015, Professor John Coates of Harvard Law School published a paper, “Corporate Speech and the First Amendment: History, Data and Implications”. The article draws on empirical analysis, history, and economic theory to demonstrate how corporations have increasingly displaced individuals as direct beneficiaries of the First Amendment.

Professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy of Stetson University College of Law provided commentary in “Corporate Democracy From Say on Pay to Say on Politics.” Published in March 2015, Professor Torres-Spelliscy explains how the Court’s ‘conception of corporate democracy rights for shareholders should protect shareholders’ ability to have a say on pay and say on politics.

Jennifer Taub, Vermont Law School professor and author, recently published “Is Hobby Lobby a Tool for Limiting Corporate Constitutional Rights?”, exploring how the Supreme Court further expanded corporate personhood in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Taub’s article offers an alternative to the current reading, by suggesting Hobby Lobby might provide a tool to limit “previously recognized corporate constitutional rights.”

For a complete list and access to publications stemming from our November 2014 symposium, click here.

Many of the panelists at our April 2016 symposium, including Legal Director Ron Fein, contributed chapters to a forthcoming book on campaign finance reform that will be available in the summer of 2018.

Building Support For Our New Jurisprudence

Free Speech For People receives legal support from law professionals across the country.  To get involved with our Legal Advocacy work, click here.