Tamara Piety is a constitutional law professor and dean at University of Tulsa’s College of Law. Her latest book, Brandishing The First Amendment: Commercial Expression in America, describes how federal courts have aggressively and inappropriately expanded the First Amendment rights of for-profit corporations in recent decades.
The book starts with a striking assertion, that if the government cannot regulate corporate speech then it cannot regulate commerce, especially in our media-driven world. Piety writes that the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling, which deregulated corporate political speech, also will make it harder for the government to protect public interests because corporate rights to say anything is ascendant in the federal judiciary.
Steven Rosenfeld interviewed Piety about Citizens United's reach beyond the electoral arena. Below is a slightly edited transcript.
Steven Rosenfeld: Are we talking about advertising or does it go deeper than that?