With recent and contentious Supreme Court cases dealing with corporate constitutional rights, such as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), as well as with the appointment of a new justice, the time is particularly ripe for evaluations of the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence in this area, including predictions about the future of this line of cases. The purpose of this thesis is to establish a better understanding of the historical jurisprudential approach utilized by the Supreme Court to decide corporate constitutional rights by establishing the well-known doctrine of selective incorporation as an appropriate analogy. No other works attempt to frame the case history of corporate constitutional rights within a consistent doctrine, yet many works seek to evaluate and predict Court decisions in this area. This work will therefore create a new frame of reference for corporate constitutional rights, providing a new basis for interpretation and predictions.

This thesis begins by conducting a thorough overview of both lines of cases, focusing on the establishment of each doctrine over time as well as the reasoning behind the Court’s use of this particular approach. Once a clear picture of both approaches has been ascertained, this thesis moves on to an overall comparison and evaluation of both approaches. In finding the process, intent, and overall effect of both jurisprudential approaches to be the same, the use of selective incorporation as an analogy for the Supreme Court’s approach to corporate constitutional rights gives way to predictions about the future of corporate constitutional rights. Considering the relevant views expressed by the new justice, Neil Gorsuch, and the previous decisions of the Roberts Court, this analogy provides solid evidence for predicting continued expansion of corporate constitutional rights, including such areas as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and perhaps even rights of the accused. The comparative approach used in this thesis, as well as the analogy it establishes, can also be revisited as new Court decisions are made and as the makeup of the Court changes overtime.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Beckman, James


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Health and Public Affairs


Legal Studies


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

May 2017

Included in

Legal Studies Commons