- Online Edition
- Print Edition
- Donahue Lecture Series
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedom of expression and seeks to foster an environment where individual ideas can freely flourish and develop. While the right of free expression is imperative in a democratic society, it is not an absolute right. The objective of safeguarding the integrity of free expression must be constantly balanced against competing interests. One interest that has clashed with the freedom of expression over the last half-century is the right of publicity.
United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall established the long accepted legal definition of a corporation when he stated that a “corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.” Although the legal definition of a corporation explicates its nonhuman status, corporations are viewed as persons in the eyes of the Court. Over time, corporations have slowly gained more and more constitutional protections. Courts have awarded constitutional protections to corporations as long as those guarantees are not “purely personal.” If a constitutional provision’s purpose, nature, and history indicate it is a purely personal guarantee, that provision is not applicable to corporations. Additionally, constitutional protections can apply to corporations but not as fully as these protections do to individual persons.