The extremely controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission is still being fought by various activist groups including End Citizens United. Much of the fight is taking place in the courtroom. Many historic activist battles have taken place in the court such as Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857, Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, and Roe v. Wade in 1973. These and many other historic courtroom battles had effects that are still strongly felt today. Time will tell if the Citizens United case is also the kind of courtroom battle that has effects still felt in 40, 80, even 100 years or more.
The origins of the case are found in 2008 during the Democratic presidential primaries, when the conservative group, Citizens United, aired a film called “Hillary: The Movie” that fiercely attacked the presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. Citizens would not reveal the funding source of the film. This became deeply problematic after the Federal Election Commision ruled that the movie was a campaign ad; a federal law states that the funding source for all political ads must be identified. In retaliation, the still adamantly silent Citizens United sued to for the overturning of the FEC ruling.
In the end, the federal court ruled in the favor of FEC, continuing to uphold the ruling. However, that was not the end up the matter, two years later in 2010 Citizens United took the case to the Supreme Court, which made the very controversial decision to overturn the earlier federal court case again Citizens United. Its effects on a very old and accepted regulatory system were huge. It essentially did away with the long-revered ability of the government to limit corporations as far as their influence on elections.
Many instantly recognized this changed everything elections, putting unlimited power into the hands of corporations. In addition, it meant a lot more of every kind of ad during election season. Many Democrats were especially unhappy since the Republican Party has way more corporations and hugely wealthy individuals on their side. Some of these organizations and personalities soon after the decision began putting hundreds of millions into these elections. It is not only politicians and activists who are angered at the decision. The polls indicate that most Americans want there to be limiting as well.
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