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John Paul Stevens on Corporations

Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. Ford 1975)

 


Corporate political spending is not protected free speech

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that the government cannot restrict the spending of corporations for political campaigns, maintaining that it's their First Amendment right to support candidates as they choose. This decision upsets two previous precedents on the free-speech rights of corporations. Pres. Obama expressed disapproval of the decision, calling it a "victory" for Wall Street and Big Business.

OnTheIssues explanation: Roberts, Scalia & Alito concurred; Stevens, Ginsburg, Breyer, & Sotomayor partly dissented (on grounds that electioneering spending is not protected free speech); Thomas partly dissented (on grounds that anonymous spending is protected free speech).

Source: InfoPlease.com on 2010 SCOTUS docket #08-205 , Jan 21, 2010

Sovereign immunity only applies to foreign-owned companies.

Justice Stevens joined the Court's decision on DOLE FOOD v. PATRICKSON on Apr 22, 2003:

In 1997, a group of Central American farm workers alleged injury from chemical exposure against Dole Food Company and the Dead Sea Companies, which produced dibromochloropropane, an agricultural pesticide that harmed the farm workers. Dole argued that the Dead Sea Companies were instrumentalities of a foreign state, Israel, as defined by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (FSIA) and thus entitled to immunity.

HELD: Delivered by Kennedy; joined by Rehnquist, Stevens, Scalia, Souter, Thomas, and Ginsburg

The Court held, 7-2, that a foreign state must itself own a majority of the shares of a corporation if the corporation is to be deemed an instrumentality of the state under the provisions of the FSIA. The corporate structure ("tiering") in this particular case prevented the Dead Sea Companies from claiming instrumentality status.

CONCURRENCE IN PART and DISSENT IN PART: By Breyer; joined by O'Connor

The phrase "owned by a foreign state" covers a foreign state's legal interest in a corporate subsidiary, where that interest consists of the foreign state's ownership of a corporate parent that owns the shares of the subsidiary. The relevant foreign nation does not DIRECTLY own a majority of the corporate subsidiaries' shares. But (simplifying the facts) it does own a corporate parent, which, in turn, owns the corporate subsidiaries' shares. Does this type of majority-ownership interest count as an example of what the statute calls an "other ownership interest"? The Court says no. I disagree.
Source: Supreme Court case 03-DOLE argued on Jan 22, 2003

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Other Justices on Corporations: John Paul Stevens on other issues:
Samuel Alito
Stephen Breyer
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Elena Kagan
Anthony Kennedy
John Roberts
Sonia Sotomayor
Clarence Thomas

Former Justices:
Antonin Scalia
David Souter
Sandra Day O'Connor
William Rehnquist
John Paul Stevens

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Page last updated: Sep 27, 2016