Cortez & Sage on The Disembodied First Amendment

Nathan Cortez (SMU – Dedman School of Law) and William M. Sage (Texas A&M University School of Law) have posted “The Disembodied First Amendment” (100 Washington University Law Review 707 (2023)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

First Amendment doctrine is becoming disembodied—increasingly detached from human speakers and listeners. Corporations claim that their speech rights limit government regulation of everything from product labeling to marketing to ordinary business licensing. Courts extend protections to commercial speech that ordinarily extended only to core political and religious speech. And now, we are told, automated information generated for cryptocurrencies, robocalling, and social media bots are also protected speech under the Constitution. Where does it end? It begins, no doubt, with corporate and commercial speech. We show, however, that heightened protection for corporate and commercial speech is built on several “artifices” – dubious precedents, doctrines, assumptions, and theoretical grounds that have elevated corporate and commercial speech rights over the last century. This Article offers several ways to deconstruct these artifices, re-tether the First Amendment to natural speakers and listeners, and thus reclaim the individual, political, and social objectives of the First Amendment.