Freedom of Thought, Law Firms and the Legal Profession, Law Schools and Universities, The Corporate World, The Technology Sector
Post, Video

2024 Freedom of Thought Conference: Corporate Rights and Individual Liberties

2024 Freedom of Thought Conference

Corporate Rights and Individual Liberties

Thursday, June 20, 2024

View the recorded livestreams below!

Panel 1: Did James Madison Think Corporations Were People Too?

How did citizens understand corporate power at the Founding? What were the rights, privileges, and limits on corporations, and how did the rights of corporations compare to those of individual citizens? Should the fact that significant elements of the corporation, including their creation and ability to operate across state lines, were privileges granted by the state affect our thinking on corporate rights? And how does contemporary thinking about corporate rights align with founding-era understandings?

  • Prof. Julia Mahoney, John S. Battle Professor of Law, University of Virginia School of Law
  • Hon. Doha Mekki, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Ryan Newman, General Counsel, Executive Office of the Governor, State of Florida
  • Lael Weinberger, Fellow, Constitutional Law Center, Stanford Law School

Moderator: Hon. Julius “Jay” Richardson, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

Recommended Resources:

On the Use That the Americans Make of Association in Civil Life,” excerpted from pages 489-92 of Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, edited and translated by Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop, published by the University of Chicago Press. ©2000 by the University of Chicago.

Panel 2: The Challenge of Citizens United

How did corporate rights evolve to include expressive constitutional rights akin to those of a natural person? How should we think about constitutional protections for corporate speech promoting commercial interests? Should the degree of alignment between ownership and control affect the constitutional interests of the corporation? Does SEC regulation on shareholder voting interfere with shareholders’ constitutional rights? If substantive rights like freedom of speech operate primarily as limits on government, does it matter whose rights are being protected?

  • John Ehrett, Chief Counsel, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley
  • Prof. Robert Miller, F. Arnold Daum Chair in Corporate Finance and Law, University of Iowa College of Law
  • Matt Stoller, Director of Research, American Economic Liberties Project
  • Eric Wessan, Solicitor General, Iowa Office of the Attorney General

Moderator: Hon. Gregory G. Katsas, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

Luncheon Fireside Chat

Hon. Andrew Ferguson, Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

Hon. Paul B. Matey, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

Panel 3: Securing the Rights of a Free People

What responsibility do states have in protecting the rights of their citizens? How should we think about rights like the freedom of speech – do rights operate primarily as a limit on government power, or do they protect the natural rights of the citizen? Which framework is more consistent with original understanding? What limits applied to freedoms of speech – to what extent were they regulable by government and for what ends? How were rights defended and enforced?

  • Prof. Randy Barnett, Patrick Hotung Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Hon. Rohit Chopra, Director, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Prof. Joshua Kleinfeld, Professor of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
  • Prof. Maimon Schwarzschild, Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law
  • Jonathan Urick, Associate Chief Counsel, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Litigation Center

Moderator: Hon. Kyle Duncan, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

Recommended Resources:

Freedom on the Net 2019 Key Finding: Governments harness big data for social media surveillance” by Adrian Shahbaz and Allie Funk.

Letter from Kris W. Kobach, Office of the Attorney General, State of Kansas, to Brian T. Moynihan, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Bank of America Corp. (copyright 2024) (on file with Kansas Attorney General’s website April 15, 2024; last visited July 3, 2024).

The Censorship-Industrial Complex: How Top White House Officials Coerced Big Tech to Censor Americans, True Information, and Critics of the Biden Administration,” Interim Staff Report, by the Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization, Federal Government U.S. House of Representatives. (May 1, 2024).

The Weaponization of the National Science Foundation: How NSF is Funding the Development of Automated Tools to Censor Online Speech “at scale” and Trying to Cover up Its Actions,” Interim Staff Report, by the Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization, Federal Government U.S. House of Representatives. (February 5, 2024).

Panel 4: The NetChoice Problem

We know how to think about government coercion. We have ready and familiar frameworks for evaluating how government power should be exercised against the private individual. But courts and policymakers increasingly are called to mediate between private actors with competing claims to liberty, and the analysis is perhaps more complex and uncertain. How should we evaluate such competing claims and what are the self-governance interests of citizens themselves? Do we have a good framework for resolving conflicting interests of corporations and natural citizens, and what role or responsibility does the state have in resolving those disputes?

  • Jonathan Berry, Managing Partner, Boyden Gray PLLC
  • James Burnham, President, Vallecito Capital, LLC
  • Erin Hawley, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Casey Mattox, Vice President, Legal Strategy, Stand Together
  • Prof. Todd Zywicki, George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

Moderator: Hon. Trevor N. McFadden, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia

Recommended Resources:

“303 Creative Will Affect More Than Wedding Vendors” by Casey Mattox. Real Clear Politics, November 30, 2022.

[The] Breakup Speech: Can Antitrust Fix the Relationship Between Platforms and Free Speech Values? By Neil Chilson and Casey Mattox. Published by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, March 5, 2020.

Recent Posts