My colleague Paul Sherman has a post on The Hill’s “Congress Blog” discussing the recently reintroduced “Shareholder Protection Act,” which would require corporations to get advance shareholder approval before spending money on political speech. As Paul explains, the Act “has little to do with protecting shareholders and everything to do with silencing corporate speech”:
The goal of the Shareholder Protection Act is obvious. By singling out electoral speech—and only electoral speech—for more burdensome treatment, the Act attempts to do indirectly what the U.S. Supreme Court said in Citizens United v. FEC that Congress may not do directly: prevent corporations from speaking to voters about political candidates. And just like direct attempts to limit corporate speech, this indirect attempt violates the First Amendment. . . .
It is no coincidence that the bills’ 49 co-sponsors are all Democrats, or that the proposed restrictions do not apply to labor unions. Campaign finance laws have long been used as partisan tools to protect incumbent politicians from speech that threatens their reelection. The Shareholder Protection Act is just the latest example of this sort of political self-dealing.
Check out the whole thing.