Citizens United Essay

264 Words2 Pages
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission (2010) that the First Amendment prohibits the government from limiting the amount of money corporations and unions spend on independent political expenditures. The majority stated that an association of individuals (i.e. corporations) retains the same First Amendment rights as individuals themselves do. Additionally, the majority argued that one’s identity is irrelevant in regards to freedom of speech; in other words, a corporation with billions of dollars in revenue has the same, unrestricted freedom of speech protections as common individuals do. Essentially, the majority stated that it is not up to the courts or legislature to impose campaign spending “fairness”, and that political contributions are a form of freedom of expression under the First Amendment. The dissenting opinion of the court noted that the ruling overruled numerous, long-standing laws which restricted campaign spending. The dissent also argued that “corporate democracy” will lead to a broken system rife with corruption. Vehemently disagreeing with the majority, the minority opinion additionally stated that the Constitution was not written for artificial legal entities such as corporations. The ruling was met with much controversy and severely hurt the image of corporations in general. An opinion poll conducted soon after the decision found that 80% of Americans opposed the ruling. However, from a technical standpoint, many academics and legal experts begrudgingly agreed with the majority opinion that the First Amendment protects corporate political contributions. And as one famous advertising executive quipped, the First Amendment is not going to be amended anytime
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