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Corporate Politics: ESG and the First Amendment

21 Mar 2024 4:24 PM | Info (Administrator)

A 2022 article entitled “Corporate Politics: ESG and the First Amendment” ( is the
most analytically relevant to the Disney/DeSantis dispute. In the article, Benjamin Seymour argues that the Citizens United case not only dramatically expanded corporate free speech protections, but also enshrined a distinctive theory of corporate politics into the United States’ constitutional law and popular imagination. The Roberts Court’s
emphasis on companies’ deliberative function in transforming debates among stakeholders into enterprise-wide values rejected a competing realist view—analytically rooted in individual executives’ incentives and power to dominate political debate within the firm—that had defined First Amendment jurisprudence a generation prior. 

His essay explains how both sides of the contemporary debate over ESG policies accepted Citizen United’s invitation to view corporations as political actors and internalized the Court’s deliberative theory of the firm.

The American College of Governance Counsel

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