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For corporations as for individuals, the choice to speak includes within it the choice of what not to say; speech does not lose its protection because of the corporate identity of the speaker.
Appellant, a gas and electric utility, inserted a newsletter in its monthly bill to customers. The newsletter included political editorials, feature stories on matters of public interest, and tips on energy conservation. Intervenor public consumer group urged appellee utilities commission to forbid the use of billing envelopes to distribute political editorials. Appellee then required appellant to apportion space in its billing envelopes for inserts by the group four times per year. The group's views were opposed to those of appellant. Claiming that it had a First Amendment right not to help spread a message with which it disagreed, the utility appealed to the California Supreme Court, but the court denied discretionary review.
May the appellee require a privately owned utility company to include in its billing envelopes speech of a third party with which the utility disagreed?
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the appellee's order because it infringed on appellant's freedom of speech by compelling the company to provide a forum for views other than its own. According to the Court, a party has the right to be free from government restrictions that abridge its own rights in order to enhance the relative voice of its opponents.