435 U.S. 765 (1978)
Appellants, banks and corporations, challenged the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts which upheld the constitutionality of Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 5, § 8 (1977), a statute which forbade certain expenditures by banks and business corporations for the purpose of influencing the vote on referendum proposals, on grounds that rights of a corporation under U.S. Constitutional Amendment I were limited to issues that materially affect its business, property or assets.
- The court reversed, holding that § 8 abridged expression that U.S. Constitutional Amendment I was meant to protect.
- The court ruled that freedom of speech was a fundamental component of the liberty safeguarded by the Due Process Clause of U.S. Constitutional Amendment XIV, which applied to corporations, and that the protection afforded to speech by corporations did not differ from that afforded to natural persons.
- The court further ruled that there was no compelling state interest which justified the prohibition of speech by corporations through § 8.
The court reversed the lower court's judgment which upheld the constitutionality of the Massachusetts statute forbidding certain expenditures by banks and business corporations for the purpose of influencing the vote on referendum proposals, ruling that the statute prohibited protected speech in a manner unjustified by a compelling state interest.