Report No. 101
5.9. Majority view in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti.-
In the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court relating to corporations in Massachussets1, Powell, J. (who delivered the majority judgment), made certain important observations, rejecting the argument that the protection of the first Amendment should be confined to corporations that are mainly engaged in the business of communication. The relevant observation are as under:
"In the realm of protected speech, the legislature is constitutionally disqualified from dictating the subjects about which persons may speak and the speakers who may address a public issue. Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 US 92 (96): 33 L Ed 2d 212 S Ct 2286 (1972)."
Rejecting the argument that a legislature may direct business corporations to 'stick to business' when addressing the public, Powell, J. further observed: "Such power in government to channel the expression of views is unacceptable under the First Amendment. Especially where, as here, the legislature's suppression of speech suggests an attempt to give one side of a debatable public question an advantage in expressing its views to the people, the First Amendment is plainly offended."
1. Para. 5.6, supra.