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Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce

Dissenting Opinions

Justices Scalia and Kennedy each filed dissenting opinions. Justice Scalia expressed his opinion that just because corporations are sometimes given "special advantages" by state laws and can have large treasuries, they should not be required "to forfeit their First Amendment rights," and that the statute was not sufficiently narrow in its construction. Justice Kennedy, who was joined by Justices O'Connor and Scalia, expressed a dissenting opinion because he felt that the statute was in violation of the First Amendment as it constituted a "censorship of speech." He felt that the act "prohibits corporations from speaking on a particular subject, the subject of candidate elections," and "discriminates on the basis of the speaker's identity," so that "the State censors what a particular segment of the political community might say with regard to candidates who stand for election." Thus, the Court's finding resulted in a decision "wholly at odds with the guarantees of the First Amendment" (Meyer v. Grant, [1988] Buckley v. Valeo, [1976]). Kennedy agreed with Scalia that the act was not narrow enough and believed that "the Act does not meet our standards for laws that burden fundamental rights."

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce - Case Background, Dissenting Opinions