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SpeechNow and Citizens United
Transcript of SpeechNow and Citizens United
SpeechNow Court Case Decision
Pros and Cons of the court decision
The result of this case along with Citizens United vs. FEC helped pave the way for Super Pacs.
Independent expenditure groups can now raise as much money as they want as long as they register as a political committee with the FEC and disclose all their financial information.
Citizens can now express their first amendment right even more by having a greater say in politics.
People could argue that the power of their voice in politics depends on the size of their wallet.
Citizens United vs. FEC
On Friday November 14, 2008, the Citizens United was granted to the Supreme Court. Citizens United as the appellant and Federal Election Commission (FEC) as the appellee.
Citizens United Court Case Decision
Decided: Thursday, January 21, 2010 by Roberts Court
SpeechNow vs. FEC
On March 26, 2010, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the provisions of FECA that limited contributions made to and accepted by Speechnow.org violated the First Amendment.
SpeechNow and Citizens United
-Independent group that believes in defending the First Amendment in elections
-Does not believe in campaign financing restrictions
-Fund restrictions affected SpeechNow by holding a $5,000 spending cap over contributions
-SpeechNow argued that this was unconstitutional by claiming
-"SpeechNow.org is not a PAC or a political party, it takes no corporate or union money, and it never donates to or coordinates with candidates. It is simply Americans talking to Americans about an issue of vital public importance: the right to speak freely about politics and whom to elect to secure it."
-By law, "According to the Federal Election Campaign Act and the FEC, any time two or more people pool their resources to support or oppose a federal candidate, they become a “political committee” subject to government regulations and limits."
-Thus, leading to the court case
- Non-profit organization who believes in restoring the United States government to citizen control, seeking to reassert the traditional American value of limited government.
- Citizens United wanted to broadcast TV ads for a film criticizing presidential candidate Hilary Clinton. By doing this, would violate the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which barred corporations and unions from paying for media that mentioned any candidate in periods immediately preceding elections. The U.S. District Court of the District Court of Colombia indeed ruled that the film did violate the BCRA restrictions of "electioneering communications." Citizens United claimed the film was fact-based and nonpartisan, but the lower court found that the films only purpose was to discredit Clinton's candidacy for president. The Supreme Court docketed the case and heard oral arguments.
- Thus, leading to the court case.
: The appellate court had to determine whether the limit on contributions made to and accepted by Speechnow.org were constitutional. They also had to determine whether the disclosure and reporting requirements were constitutional.
: The court held that the $5,000 contribution limit to Speechnow.org was unconstitutional, but the disclosure and reporting requirements were constitutional.
: The court ruled that the contribution limit violated the First Amendment by prohibiting donations in excess of the limits. They ruled that “contributions to groups that make only independent expenditures cannot corrupt or create the appearance of corruption.” This led the court to claim that the government has no anti-corruption interest in imposing contribution limits on Speechnow, making it unconstitutional. The court held that although disclosure and reporting requirements impose a burden on First Amendment interests, they impose no ceiling on campaign related activities and do not prevent anybody from speaking. Since the public is interested in knowing who is speaking about a candidate and who is funding the speech, the court held that requiring disclosure and organization as a political committee are sufficiently important governmental interests to justify reporting and registration burdens on Speechnow.
Holding: The Government cannot take away the freedom of speech because of the speaker's corporate identity. The court case McConnell v. FEC had reached the conclusion that the government cannot prohibit the use of anyone's 1st Amendment right. Also the court mentions that some corporations are made to create news.
Issue: Citizens United argued that section 441b of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) criminalizes ads produced by corporations that target or praise candidates.
Facts: Some of non-profit organization Citizens United's 12 million dollar budget, that came from for-profit organizations which created a documentary on Hillary Clinton entitled
Hillary: The Movie
Argument for it
• Political spending is protected under the first amendment
(Meaning corporations and unions can spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities, as long as it was done independently of a party or candidate)
Argument against it
• Corporations, labor unions, PAC’s, and issue groups do not deserve first amendment rights because they are not people, they are made of people.
Argued: Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Granted: Friday, November 14, 2008
Reargued: Wednesday, September 12, 2009
Further Reasoning for Citizens United Case
1. Barring independent political spending amounts to silencing free speech: protected by First Amendment.
2. The First Amendment protects person’s right to speak, act of speech itself, regardless of speaker. Therefore First Amendment shields speech of unions/corporations, whether deem them people or not.
3. Even though government has power to prevent corruption or “the appearance of corruption,” has no place in determining whether large political expenditures are either those things, may not force spending limits on that basis.
4. Public has right to hear all available information; spending limits prevent information from getting to public.
1. First Amendment protects only individual speech, not speech by associations of individuals.
2. Government could prevent corruption, campaign spending could be corrupt when buys influence over legislators. Therefore government could impose spending limits on corporations/unions.
3. Government could prevent appearance of corruption, secretly weakens public confidence in democracy. Limits on corporate/union political spending are an expression of that authority.
4. Public has right to hear all information available, when corporations spend money individuals cannot match, messages from corporations drown messages from others, that information fails to reach public.
5 votes for Citizens United and 4 votes against