I’m even uncomfortable with the crowded theater exception. As a (proud) non-attorney, I figure that if the ratifiers had not liked the words “Congress shall make no law…”, then they would have insisted on changing them to “Congress shall make any exceptions to…as it deems proper”.
The argument that free speech doesn’t adhere to corporations is initially plausible. But try to imagine how one would even write a first amendment amendment to permit Congress to decide which corporations are entitled to free expression (like NY Times, Newsweek, NBC, GE, Brookings, etc.) and which (like Fox News, the EIB network, The Cato Institute, Blue Cross, etc.) are not.
Even without the First Amendment, there is not a hint in the enumerated powers of Congress of a power to limit any citizen or group of citizens acting together as in a corporation or union from publicly presenting a political point of view. Not even the weasel words ” necessary and proper” can be stretched that far as there is no other legislative power in the Constitution for whose exercise it would be necessary and proper to censor free speech and press.
Some thirty years ago, the citizens of Skokie, IL acting out of revulsion tried to deny a permit to some nazi thugs to march. The ensuing arguments split even the self-righteous ACLU. In the end, the Constitution prevailed and I admit that at the time I wished it hadn’t. By what stretch of reason can it be justified to protect the right of nazis to spew their bile, while preventing a group of independent plumbing contractors from complaining about a proposed local sewer ordinance.
Restricting political speech by anyone or any group at any time can only serve the interests of those who already hold power. If I may paraphrase an early patriot, I know not what course others may take, but as for myself, when in doubt kick ’em out.