The United States Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions were able to exercise their 1st Amendment right in elections. Under precedence of McCain-Feingold (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act), the ruling struck down the provision that prohibited corporations, for-profit and non-profit, from participating in electioneering communications. Electioneering communications defined as broadcast, cable or satellite communications directly mentioning a candidate within a 60-day window prior to the election.
Target Corporation became one of the first companies to test the waters. Target donated $150,000 to a group called Minnesota Forward. Minnesota Forward used the money to support candidates that promoted their issue of free enterprise and a pro-business culture. One of the candidates publicly supported by Minnesota Forward was Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Mr. Emmer is seeking the Republican nomination. Mr. Emmer’s stance on social issues, specifically his ardent voice of opposition against same-sex marriage has drawn fire against Target from organizations such as MoveOn.org.
Target’s contribution to Minnesota Forward “was designed to support Emmer’s stance on economic issues,” Gregg Steinhalf, Target Corp. CEO, said. Critics of Target’s contribution have besieged the company and the candidate, because of stances on social issues. MoveOn.org and other gay rights organizations have called for boycotts and raised the stakes of this contribution. In doing so, is it reasonable to claim these organizations are trying to limit free speech on their own. Of course, activism is in and of itself a form of free speech. However, the question remains, where does one’s right to free speech end and where another’s right begin?
Do you think Target Corporation should be taking the heat for their contribution, or are the critics (MoveOn.org) going too far in their backlash?