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In the Citizens United v.

Federal Election Commission case of 2010, the Supreme Court


struck down a key provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 that concerned
electioneering communications. The provision had banned electioneering communications that
specifically named a candidate for federal office within 30 days of a primary election and 60
days of a general election that was paid out of a special interests fund. These special interests
included lobbying groups such as the conservative group Citizens United, corporations, and
unions. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the laws ban on corporate and union independent
expenditures was unconstitutional under the First Amendment right to the freedom of speech,
and that prohibiting corporations and unions from engaging in political speech would be
committing government censorship. The ruling extended the principle set 34 years earlier in
Buckley v. Valeo that restrictions on spending for the purpose of engaging in political speech
unconstitutionally burdened the right to free speech protected by the First Amendment. The
Supreme Court ruled constitutionally in Citizens United v. FEC because corporations are entitled
to the same First Amendment rights and protections as people, including the freedom of speech,
and the advocacy of the election or defeat of candidates for federal office is political speech that
is protected under the First Amendment.
Under U.S. law, corporations are associations of citizens that are recognized as legal
persons. Therefore, since corporations are recognized as people, they are entitled to the same
rights and protections as human beings, including the freedom of speech. The conservativeleaning Wall Street Journal confirms this in a 2010 editorial supporting the Citizens United
decision by writing, Corporations are entitled to the same right that individuals have to spend
money on political speech for or against a candidate (M). As associations of citizens and,

more importantly, as legal persons corporations cannot be prohibited from or punished for
engaging in political speech. As the majority opinion in Citizens United states, The First
Amendment does not permit Congress to make these categorical distinctions based on the
corporate identity of the speaker and the content of the political speech (I). Punishing
corporations for engaging in political speech would therefore be in direct violation of the First
Amendment. The concurrent opinion, written separately from the majority opinion, elaborates:
The individual persons right to speak includes the right to speak in association with other
individual personsThe association in a business corporation is no different or at least it
cannot be denied the right to speak on the simplistic ground that it is not an individual
American (K). The concurrent opinion utilizes the analogy of speech by the Republican and
Democratic parties to support this claim, arguing that speech by political parties is not censored
because it is the speech of many like-minded Americans who have given their party leadership
the right to speak on their behalf. Likewise, since corporations are authorized to act as a single
entity and are entitled to the same constitutional rights and protections as people, they are
therefore entitled to engage in political speech, including the advocacy of the election or defeat
of candidates for federal office.
Political speech includes electioneering communications attacking or promoting a
candidate, and is therefore protected under the First Amendment. The First Amendment itself
states that Congress shall make no lawabridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the
right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of
grievances (C). As the majority opinion in the 1976 case of Buckley v. Valeo a case whose
precedents were upheld in Citizens United states, Advocacy of the election or defeat of
candidates for federal office is no less entitled to protection under the First Amendment than the

discussion of political policy generally or advocacy of the passage or defeat or legislation (F).
Prohibiting corporations from engaging in political speech would therefore be unconstitutional,
since it would violate the First Amendment right to the freedom of speech. More than that, it
would impair the functioning of a democratic society by limiting citizens access to information,
ideas, and issues. Groups such as Citizen United would not be able to educate citizens and
broadcast their message. The Citizens United mission statement itself declares that, Through a
combination of education, advocacy, and grassroots organization, Citizens United seeks to
reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong
families, and national sovereignty and security by producing high-impact, sometimes
controversial, but always fact-based documentaries filled with interview of experts and leaders in
their fields (G). This includes the anti-Hillary Clinton documentary whose availability on a
cable networks On Demand feature the conservative organization had originally sued the FEC
over. In order to help maintain a democratic government, citizens must be permitted to discuss
public issues and debate on candidates qualifications to hold public office. This includes being
exposed to electioneering communications attacking or promoting a candidate at any given time.
In todays society, ads, books, and other forms of media are increasingly becoming the most
effective way for candidates and special interests alike to convey their message to as broad an
audience as possible. Now, six years after the case of Citizens United was decided, the Internet
has become one of the leading sources of information about candidates and issues, especially
among the rising generation of millennials. The BCRA of 14 years ago would seem to ban a
blog post expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate if that blog were created with
corporate funds (I). The widespread use of media to engage in political speech creates a more

informed and politically engaged society. Restricting electioneering communications would only
hinder this achievement.
Although the Supreme Court ruled constitutionally in Citizens United v. FEC on the basis
of freedom of speech for corporations, opponents of the ruling do raise legitimate fears as to the
lasting effects it could have on the American political process. As The New York Times warns in a
2010 editorial opposing the Citizens United decision, corporate lobbyists can credibly threaten:
Well spend whatever it takes to defeat a member of Congress that tries to stand up to a wealthy
special interest (N). The precedent established by the ruling could also open the door to more
dangerous precedents that could lead to the dramatic deregulation of campaign finances.
However, the recognition of corporations as legal persons entitled to the same constitutional
rights and protections as people is undeniable, and the first argument would be therefore better
served by a legal document confirming this fact once and for all. This additional document
would reinforce the argument that because corporations as legal persons are entitled to the same
constitutional rights and protections as people, they are therefore entitled to the freedom of
speech, including expressly advocating for the election or defeat of a federal candidate. Without
this sort of document, the DBQ writer would need to depend on background knowledge and a
fleeting reference in one of the provided documents to establish this fundamental fact. The
Supreme Court ruled constitutionally in Citizens United v. FEC because corporations are entitled
to the same First Amendment rights and protections as people, including the freedom of speech,
and the advocacy of the election or defeat of candidates for federal office is political speech that
is protected under the First Amendment.