Citizens United v FederalElection Commission Week 10
What is the context of thecase? ‘Electioneering communication’ means something specific. Where would you find the definition to this? Rule 441(b) organizations had restrictions placed upon their electioneering communication spending. What is a 441(b) organization? What was going on in our country at the time?
2 U.S.C. 441(b) What does this statute make unlawful? Donations to campaigns Limits the types of communications corporations/unions can make during elections (electioneering communications)
11 CFR 100.29 Rules defining electioneering communications What is an electioneering communication?
Precedent in effect Bucky v. Valeo: Upheld federal election laws which set limits on campaign contributions, but ruled that spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech; The laws in question were passed by congress after the president Ford vetoed. Austin v. Michigan State: When a State seeks to regulate corporate political expenditures, it is not a limitation of the corporation’s First Amendment constitutional rights if the state sets guidelines regarding the origin of the funds. McConnell v. FEC: Banning ‘soft-money’ (money not given directly to candidates but instead to political parties) contributions are not unconstitutional.
Who is the plaintiff? Citizens United is a political advocacy group Google ‘citizens united’ What can you learn about them from their website?
What happened? During the 2008 election, a conservative non-profit organization named "Citizens United" produced Hillary: The Movie, a documentary critical of Hillary Clinton. Because of the political nature of the movie and the fact that Citizens United intended to purchase airtime on a video on- demand service on cable television, the movie was deemed an "electioneering communication" by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and was therefore subject to the rules governing the production of political ads, including limitations on who may fund them. Citizens United sued in federal court to overturn the decision, lost and appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held two hearings on the case and its ruling ultimately went far beyond what the plaintiffs had sought. The 5-4 decision permits corporations, unions and other special interests to spend as much as they like to advocate the election or defeat of political candidates. Laws that bar those interests from contributing directly to candidates remain in place but the ruling lifted controls on political giving that had been in place for decades.
What are the concerns? Corruption in elections Foreign involvement in elections Unaccountability to voting electorate Lack of fairness in electoral process Democracy, where every vote matters, no longer holds true Invisible hand of corporations running government
What about the decision? What does it do? What doesn’t it do? Was this decision broad? Could it have been made more narrow?
What rules must 441(b) orgsfollow? What happened to the statute? The regulations? The previous cases on this topic? Where do we go from here? Can corporations donate to campaigns? Can corporations donate anonymously?
Constitutional Implications At its heart this is a first amendment/free speech case What does this case say about the first amendment? What does it say about money and its role in speech rights? What does it say about corporate speech? Commercial speech? Political speech?