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How Citizens United Protects a Mezcal Company’s Right to Critcize Trump: New at Reason

Saturday, October 29, 2016 6:49
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Over the past year posters bearing the phrase “Donald eres un pendejo” (“Donald, you are an asshole”) have been appearing around the country. Those posters are the work of Ilegal Mezcal, a brand of agave spirit imported from Mexico. John Rexer, owner of the brand, was inspired to put up the posters after a conversation with a Mexican waiter who was dejected by Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. The phrase has since become closely identified with Ilegal, which has printed it on posters and t-shirts and even projected the image onto Rockefeller Center.

Ilegal’s message has struck a chord, observes Jacob Grier, but it’s also in tension with the idea, popular on the political left, that corporations should not engage in political speech. Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010, it has become common for liberals to assert that corporations don’t have free speech rights, that money is not speech, and that corporate expenditures intended to influence politics can be restricted unproblematically. But what if Citizens United had gone the other way, Grier asks. Would a hypothetical President Trump have the constitutional authority to forbid mezcal companies from calling him a pendejo?

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