Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission



Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

The case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission highlighted the need to define and differentiate between individual and corporate right of speech. In the ruling, the majority chose to consider the rights of speech of the corporate over the rights of the individuals. The ruling paved way for big money spending during elections. Money is often a big factor in determining how an election will turn out. Those who have more money to spend are in a position to use different media and channels to reach more people. They can use their money to rally the voters and would be supporters. The ruling does not consider the effect that such action can have on individuals. Individuals do not have the same power as corporations do. They are not able to reach more people on their own. The people receiving most attention are those who are willing to spend whatever it takes to influence the citizens. The media prefers them because they are big spenders. Individuals do not have the same opportunity to make the same influence.

Although the rights of the corporate are protected in the first amendment, the case highlights the need for sensibility and responsibility. Freedom only works when there is responsibility. Doing otherwise would create a situation for chaos, where every entity feels the need to do whatever he wants because he has the freedom to do so. The court would be paving way for corporations to behave irresponsibly if it permitted them to use as much money as they want to influence voters to vote for or against a candidate. Therefore, if I were on the Supreme Court, I would join the dissent, as I would consider the issue of responsibility in freedom as well as the right of the individual over the corporate. At the end of the day, corporations do not vote but people do. Therefore, it is up to the court to uphold the rules that consider their rights.  

The ruling paved the way for corporate and other unions and organizations to increase the amount they spend during elections. The law has banned corporations and unions from contributing to the campaigns directly. However, the ruling made it possible for the organizations and institutions to find other ways of contributing their funds. Wealthy people have found a way to increase their political contributions since they can fund numerous political organizations fighting for the same cause or supporting the same individual. They can contribute their money through different forms of communications such as advertisements. After the Citizens United ruling, the rules governing corporate participation during elections became relaxed. This is evidenced by the 2012 election campaign period, which was the most expensive.

Campaign spending increased significantly in 2012. Much of the increase can be attributed to super PACs, which are political action committees that have the freedom to raise and spend as much money as they want during campaigns and active nonprofits. The super PACs have to disclose their spending and their donors to the federal election commission but the non-profits do not have to do so. The bipartisan reform act of 2002 had banned unions and corporate organizations from funding issue advertisements but the ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission overrode this. In the 2012 elections, organizations, which fund issue ads, spent more than $1billion. More than $600million was spent on the presidential race (The Economist, 2012). The increase in spending and contributions signifies a relaxation of the rules regarding the participation of corporate organizations.


The Economist. The future of campaign finance: A morning-after constitutional? Retrieved from

Cornell University Law School. Citizens united v. federal election comm’n ( no. 08-205 ) 
reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded
. Retrieved from

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