Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Reader 1

Paul Hurley

Reader 2

George Thomas

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© 2020 Romi Ferder


This thesis traces and establishes a troubling pattern across three core Supreme Court speech cases: Citizens United v. FEC, NIFLA v. Becerra, and Matal v. Tam. It argues that the Court has purported to extend speech rights, expanding protections for commercial and corporate speech, but has actually been undermining the meaningful speech and democratic rights of natural constitutional persons--members of We the People. The thesis first addresses Citizens United, a case on corporate political speech. It argues that, while the Court claimed to extend speech rights, it actually undermined the speech and democratic rights of natural constitutional persons by prioritizing the protection of legislated entities that deserve protection only so long as they further the rights of the citizen. The thesis next analyzes NIFLA, a case about disclosures at reproductive healthcare facilities. Its discussion of that case explores the unique roles of professionals as individuals defined by their duties to the natural constitutional person. It concludes that the Court threatened the speech and autonomy rights of citizens by prioritizing professional commercial speech. Finally, in analyzing Matal, a case about disparaging trademarks, this thesis reveals another instance in which the Court endangered the speech and equality rights of man, this time by requiring that the government actively propagate speech that threatened those rights. Ultimately, in addressing each of these cases, this thesis works to rectify the Court’s errors by prescribing a lens that prioritizes the meaningful speech and democratic rights of the natural constitutional person.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.