Fec vs. Citizens United

September 25, 2012

Federal Election Commission v. Citizens United

The First Amendment has been one of the most controversial issues surrounding the Constitutions since its ratification in 1787. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Many people disagree on the extent of power the First Amendment actually has on the right to free speech. One of the most controversial issues surrounding the First Amendment is how much influence a company can have over elections and campaigns. Huge corporations are known to pay billions of dollars to endorse certain politicians, and in turn the politicians pass legislation benefitting the corporation. Is this fair, or even legal? The Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission dove right into the issue. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was an important United States Supreme Court case in which it was decided that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting political expenditures by corporations and unions. Citizens United, a nonprofit organization, produced a political controversial video on Senator Hillary Clinton prior to the 2008 primary elections, known as Hillary: The Movie. The documentary covered Hillary Clinton's life while in the Senate, the White House as First Lady and during her bid for presidential Democratic nominee. However, the documentary falls within the definition of "electioneering communications" under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA")-a federal enactment designed to prevent "big money" from unfairly influencing federal elections. In a 5–4 decision, the Court held that BCRA violated the First Amendment.

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