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Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

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Robin Shillock

on 8 February 2015

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Transcript of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
Citizens United v. FEC (2010)
The Conflict
Citizens United PAC wants to air a "film" about Hillary Clinton
This violated the BCRA (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) aka "McCain Feingold"
The BCRA was passed in wake of the scandals to regulate "electioneering communications"
The Hearing
Initially: The court rules 5-4 in
favor of the Citizens United PAC
BUT: Justice Kennedy argued that the court didn't go far enough in a
Then: The other four justices in the
majority agree with Kennedy and
replace Robert's majority opinion with Kennedy's concurrence.
Response: Minority justices scream bloody murder, arguing that this
procedure was illegal.
Result: The case is re-heard, this time it isn't just about the movie.

The Ruling
It is unconstitutional to ban or limit free speech, which includes communications (spending in elections and advertising) from Corporations, Unions, Associations, and Individuals
But there are still limits on money being given "directly" to candidates.
Overturned federal laws from as far back as 1907
Basically: You can spend as much as you want on political advertising or lobbying as long as it is going to a super PAC or "social welfare"/"nonprofit" group (don't disclose donors). The difference super PACs are for canidates, "social welfare"/"nonprofit" groups are for ideas and causes.
Dissenting Opinion
Effect: MAJOR Changes in Spending
The Effect on Campaigns and Elections
Continued . . .
Public Opinion and Push Back
The Future of the Ruling/ Works Cited
"Although they make enormous contributions to our society, corporations are not actually members of it. They cannot vote or run for office. Because they may be managed and controlled by nonresidents, their interests may conflict in fundamental respects with the interests of eligible voters. The financial resources, legal structure, and instrumental orientation of corporations raise legitimate concerns about their role in the electoral process. Our lawmakers have a compelling constitutional basis, if not also a democratic duty, to take measures designed to guard against the potentially deleterious effects of corporate spending in local and national races."
-Dissenting Opinion
"The basic premise underlying the Court’s ruling is its iteration, and constant reiteration, of the proposition that the First Amendment bars regulatory distinctions based on a speaker’s identity, including its “identity” as a corporation. While that glittering generality has rhetorical appeal, it is not a correct statement of the law. Nor does it tell us when a corporation may engage in electioneering that some of its shareholders oppose."
-Dissenting Opinion
Some have "interesting" responses to this: http://www.tubechop.com/watch/4778352
Outside Spending Now Play a HUGE Part in Elections
Examining a Race:
Alaska Senate 2014
"The 100 biggest campaign donors gave $323 million in 2014 — almost as much as the $356 million given by the estimated 4.75 million people who gave $200 or less" - Politico
Thanks to:
The Center for Responsive Politics
The Washington Post
The New York Times
The Brookings Institute
An Alternative:
In 2012 the state of Montana sued the U.S. Government arguing that regulating election spending was a states' rights. Because states already run their own elections. They lost but their
argument received bi-partisan support.
"Self-Funders" are a lot more prevalent in politics. It is why we keep breaking the record for the richest congress
$120.59 was spent PER VOTE, race was
decided by only 6,014 votes
Full transcript