Citizens United v EFC

Citizens United v EFC

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Citizens United v EFC

Introduction

Citizens United v Federal Election Commission is a case that dealt with the measure to regulate campaign spending in organizations in the country. The Supreme Court through a decision by the majority ruled that the freedom of speech restricted the government from regulating the political expenditures by nonprofit corporations. The principles pronounced in the ruling were also extended to labor unions, associations and profit corporations. Campaign finances are funds that are raised for the purposes of promoting policies, political parties, candidates and other aspects of the political process. Private entities should not be regulated in their contributions to campaign funds. By participating in the process the private entities are exercising their freedom of expression because they are demonstrating their political choice. The law grants individuals and even corporations the freedom to act as they wish as long as they are not infringing on the personal right of other individuals. The private entities are not infringing on any rights by actively participating in the political process.

Private Interest and the Rule of the Majority

Democracy is established on the tenets of the rule by the majority. People are given the options deciding the candidate or policy that can serve them best (La Raja, 2008). Consequently, candidates seeking public office are required to do all they can with the intention of appealing to as many people as possible. Additionally, people who believe in a particular policy or candidate are supposed to help him or her to rally more support. Therefore, a corporate entity should not be restricted from doing what it can to lobby supporters to a certain direction. Seeking the approval of the public is not subverting the will of the majority. Funding is very important for a healthy democracy. The advertising costs are paid to media houses therefore they are a source of income.

Funding and the Violation of the First Amendment

The argument that restricting campaign funds is an affront to the freedom of speech might also be considered to be true in some circumstances. The perception can be qualified by acts of excessive spending by one candidate while the other candidate does not have the ability to spend as much (La Raja, 2008). As a result, the endowed candidate is able to get all the airtime and billboards while the other does not have comparable access. In that situation, it can be concluded that the less endowed candidate’s right to be heard is being muzzled by the heavy funding. Unfortunately, there are no grounds for recourse in the law in such situations. However, the spirit of the law envisages a situation where all the candidates have an equal platform to compete and solicit for support.

Money as a Form of Free Speech

The Supreme Court of the United States ruling asserted that private entities also have a right to support whoever or whichever policies that they wish. The funding that follows the support is part of expressing their approval. The corporate entities exercise their freedom of speech by the funding. Freedom of speech can take three forms. The first form is the pure speech that is the verbal expression of opinions and thoughts. The second form is actions and it includes acts such as demonstrations and protests. The third form is the symbolic nature of the freedom that is non verbal such as wearing armbands. Funding can be presumed to be the second form of the freedom of expression. Therefore, the institutions of government should find ways of protecting the freedom rather than clamping it down.

 

References:

La Raja, R. J. (2008). Small Change: money, political parties, and campaign finance reform. University of Michigan Press.

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