Document Type



The Supreme Court has addressed only a few occasions the extent to which corporations enjoy those constitutional rights so fundamental to private citizens. In this article Professor O'Kelley discusses the inherent difficulty in applying familiar constitutional principles to corporations and examines those cases in which the Supreme Court has either extended or denied to corporations various constitutional rights. Finding that two underlying conceptual doctrines -- the Field rational and the associational rationale -- have guided the Court in previous decisions in this area, he then applies these doctrines in an analysis of the recent Supreme Court decision in First National Bank v. Bellotti. He argues that although the Court reached the correct result, the reasoning of the various opinions was seriously flawed. Finally, he applies the two doctrines in an examination of the constitutionality of the corporate campaign contribution and expenditure limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act demonstrating how future cases involving corporate claims of first amendment protection should be analyzed. He concludes that if the statute is properly construed and the two doctrines correctly applied, the limitations on corporate campaign contributions and expenditures should withstand constitutional challenge.