How ‘the Kingfish’ Turned Corporations into People

Huey Long was a populist who championed the little guy over big business, but his attempt to muzzle the press empowered the very corporate interests he inveighed against. When Long imposed a punitive tax on Louisiana newspapers to stifle criticism, it was not at all clear that for-profit business corporations had free speech rights—the prevailing law was on Long’s side. But in 1936, the Supreme Court ruled for the newspaper corporations and struck down Long’s tax. Instead of a shield for persecuted dissenters from tyranny, the First Amendment became a sword for business to strike down unwanted regulation.

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