Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

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The case was presented in the United States Supreme Court as anappeal to address the United States constitutional law that regulatescampaign spending by various organizations. The Supreme Court heldthat the first amendment restricted the government from curtailingindependent political spending by a non-profit making organization.Citizens United wanted to air publicly Hilary Clinton’s film andadvertise it in commercials during television broadcasts. The movewould e an act of violation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of2002. Citizens (United V. Federal Election Commission, 2010). The acthas a clear definition of a bipartisan campaign as an electioneeringcommunication in the form of broadcast, cable or satellitecommunication that bears the name of a political candidate 60 daysand 30 days to a general and primary election respectively. TheDistrict of Columbia held that the Bipartisan provision could not beviolated

The case is one of the most attention-capturing examples of judicialactivism. The complainant brought forth cases and controversies withthe intention of deferring to the legitimate authority of thelegislature to make laws. However, the court acted in earnest not toallow some disagreements from the past judicial decision to overrulethe stare decisis. Secondly, the court ordered a re-argument of casesthat did not offer a direct challenge to the present case before it.It overruled and dismissed the legitimacy of the laws adopted over acentury before the case (Citizens United V. Federal ElectionCommission, 2010). For example, the Court overruled Austin v.Michigan Chamber of Commerce by terming its ruling not applicable theCitizens United case. Thirdly, when deciding the case, the court’smajority had recourse to the Constitution of the United States andthe strict scrutiny practiced in court. The strict scrutiny focuseson the fundamental rights that people and groups of interests enjoy.In strict scrutiny, the burden of proof does fall on the litigant whochallenges the law to depict instances of constitutional compromise.Instead, it falls on the government to give evidence and justify itscompliance with the Constitution.

Citizens United and The Federal Election Commission were the mainparties in this case. Citizens United is a registered conservativeNon-profit organization operating under the leadership of its currentpresident, David Bossie. The major agenda behind the activities f theorganization is to reinstate the fading American values andincreasing people’s control over the government (Citizens United V.Federal Election Commission, 2010). It produces televisioncommercials, documentaries and web advertisements for various keyfigures. The organization is strongly conservative, and it has ahistory of supporting conservative political candidates.

The Federal Election Commission is an independent body formed by theCongress of the United States with an agenda of regulating politicalfinancing during campaigns. It oversees the disclosing of financialinformation and also enforces laws prohibiting contributions forcampaign purposes and the public funding of presidential elections.The Commission is currently collecting advisory opinions from keystakeholders and citizens across the country in an online platform.

Citizens United has played an important role in the Americanpoliticians mainly to the interest of the conservative politicalumbrella. The number of publication sit makes have a direct impact onthe way people view political leaders as well as having an influenceon their popularity. Hillary became a landmark project that acted onthe American campaign funding arena. The ruling was given for theorganization`s action through an activist charged ruling that openedavenues to other politicians to us the same channel to reach out totheir supporters (Levitt, 2010). The organization’s activitiesespecially the court tussle with the Federal Election Commissiontossed the corporate and union ban that give room for independentexpenditures and funding for electioneering communications. It shedthe green light for independent corporations to pour cash to singlecandidate and political action committees. The organizations carryout their activities while using the trick of snubbing directassociation with the political candidates. For example, a recentanalysis conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice found out thatthe spending on political campaigns doubled in 2010. The independentgroups made 47% of the total political spending compared to the 41%from the individual political candidates (Levitt, 2010).

The Federal Election Commission has been instrumental in placing thepolitical financing under review to avoid them breaking the thresholddefined by their act. Most of the organizations that fund campaignsincline to the support of specific candidates. Currently, allpoliticians have to cite the source of their funding and file thereport to the Commission (Levitt, 2010). However, people fear thatits capacity is weakening. For example, there are fears that theFederal Electoral Commission may not be in the capacity to controlthe political funding I the 2016 elections especially after theSupreme Court ruling for citizen’s united.

Citizen United is an influential group in the country due to itsconservative tendencies. Its efforts have influenced the politicalenvironment in the United States. For example, due to its efforts ofrunning Hillary in support of the Hillary Clinton as a presidentialcandidate, political spending from organizations increasedsignificantly to 47%. FEC is also an influential body since it is aproduct of the legislative (Levitt, 2010). Also, it has the authorityto monitor spending from all candidates. For example, it was the onlybody that questioned the activities of the powerful citizen’sunited to indirectly campaign for Hillary Clinton.

I like Federal Election Commission for several reasons. First,although critics claim that the organization was formed in theinterest of some politicians, it acts to control politicians fromboth the conservative and the Democrat umbrellas. Secondly, itsmandate is very noble since politicians can solicit funds fromorganizations that may require political returns. Finally, itsconstitution is very representative. I like this because it does notover-represent one political party. Also, although Citizens United isan influential body, I dislike its radical conservative nature. It isunlikely for them to turn adverts for a Democrat candidate. Secondly,I dislike it for the effects of its case against FEC (Levitt, 2010).The consequent was an increased funding from non-profitorganizations. However, I like its objective of taking the controlfrom the government to the people.

A surprising thing about the case was that both democrats andrepublicans were against the decision, and it was contrary thepreliminary opinion of the public that it was more of a politicalcase than the overriding of a single rule. The current president,Barrack Obama was against the decision claiming that it would denythe ordinary American the power to influence elections. Presidentialhopeful John McCain felt that the decision would backlash byincreasing political spending by organizations.


Citizens UnitedV. Federal Election Commission. (2010). 08-205.United States SupremeCourt.

Levitt, J. (2010).Confronting the Impact of&quot Citizens United&quot. Yale Law &ampPolicy Review, 217-234.

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