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Margot Bloch

Period 1
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission DBQ

The United States is run as a republican government in which political power is held by
the people, or citizens, who exercise their power by voting for elected officials. Citizens United,
an American organization, claims to be dedicated to preserving this form of democratic
government by keeping the political authority in the hands of average citizens. This notion
however is inaccurate, as the actual work of Citizens United has made it easier for big business
interest groups and corporations to influence policy. Interest groups are organizations of people
who share political views and work to achieve their goals by using the political process to
influence government. However, aggregating all their wealth creates an unfair situation and they
should not be given the same access into politics as the average individual citizen. The
Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission was
unconstitutional because the First Amendment protects the free speech of individuals, not
associations of individuals, the ruling does not follow the national One Person, One Vote
standard, and the federal government has an obligation to prevent corruption which this ruling
does not do.
First, the Supreme Court ruling was unconstitutional because the right to free speech,
which many directly relate to money in politics, is protected for individuals under the First
Amendment and not associations of individuals, or corporations. The majority opinion in this
case explains that the government is not allowed to censor citizens by stating that the
restrictions on Citizens United are illegitimate. They claim, This is unlawful. The First
Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves, however corporations are not people
and do not represent the American people (Doc. I). Big business corporations should not be
allowed the power they are being given in order to influence every other individual in the
country. Unlike our colleagues, the Framers had little trouble distinguishing corporations from

Margot Bloch
Period 1
human beings and when they constitutionalized the right to free speech in the First Amendment,
it was the free speech of individual Americans they had in mind, the dissenting opinion says,
showing how the Constitution defends distinct singular people, not large scale companies trying
to dominate the political process (Doc. J). In the concurrent opinion of the Supreme Court, the
Justice says that The Framers didnt like corporations, the dissent concludes, and therefore it
follows (as night the day) that corporations had no rights to free speech (Doc. K). They claim is
made that corporations can be treated as individuals because they are groups of individuals. Of
course corporations are made up of people, however the argument that a corporation as a
whole is the same as an individual is not legitimate. It is unconstitutional to give corporations
who are essentially organizations made to make money and given special tax rates to do so, the
same access to influence politics through money as the ordinary citizen.
Next, voting in favor of Citizens United was unlawful because allowing overwhelming
super PACS (Political Action Committees) to dominate the political system does not follow the
One Person, One Vote principle established in the 1962 Supreme Court Case Baker v. Carr.
Political Action Committees are created by corporations or interest groups to fund policies and
candidates they support, and are supposed to be monitored and restricted. Citizens United
opposes limiting of PAC money because money is speech. If money is speech, the system is
not democratic and does not give every person the fair chance they deserve to run this country.
The founding fathers agreed that the people must govern in order to maintain the just,
republican government of the United States. In 1787, Thomas Jefferson, an Anti-Federalist,
wrote, The people are the only censors of government...The basis of our governments being
the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right (Doc. B). Jefferson
was in favor of the Bill of Rights, which contains the First Amendment, and was opposed to the
Constitution without it. As an influential founding father, his opinions are reliable. He believed
that individual rights must be protected. Also in 1787, James Madison, a Federalist, said

Margot Bloch
Period 1
[Because] the causes of faction cannot be removed...relief is only to be sought in the means of
controlling its effects (Doc. A). Interest groups and corporations can be seen as factions and
must be limited in order to preserve democracy. Every individuals voice must have the same
opportunity to produce change in politics. If money is speech, this can not be achieved. Both
Anti-Federalists and Federalists agreed on a government run fairly by the people. This shows
the importance of this nations democratic values for everyone involved. Letting corporations
and billionaires pour limitless amounts of money into the political system undermines views and
policy opinions of minorities. Monumental businesses made up of the elite and ethnic majorities
in this country can not overpower and crush perspectives of minorities as well.
Lastly, the ruling on Citizens United v. FEC was unreasonable because as a democratic
nation, the United States government has a responsibility to work to eliminate corruption in the
political process. To give corporations power to pay off candidates and to bribe them into
supporting their issues is corrupt and this behavior has no place in the republican American
government. A New York Times article titled The Courts Blow to Democracy from 2010 says
that the courts conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast
treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding, and
that the 5-4 court ruling for Citizens United strikes at the heart of democracy (Doc. N).
Informing the public and remaining transparent about what is happening in politics is crucial.
The New York Times is seen as having a more liberal slant, however there are a mix of writers
and editors and the newspaper covers both sides and is a solid, dependable news source. In
addition, just as James Madison, a founding father, recognized the danger of factions in his
Federalist Paper #10, in 1910, Teddy Roosevelt noticed how Our government, National State,
must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests the great special
business interests too often control and corrupt the men and methods of government for their
own profit (Doc. E). As a president, Teddy Roosevelt was able to see firsthand how money

Margot Bloch
Period 1
influenced policy. The dishonest and untrustworthy practices of vast businesses who represent
a small, elite portion of Americans must be eliminated because it clearly violates national values.
Monstrous associations who are undermining minorities are also shielding themselves from the
American public as a whole in order to influence elections in major ways behind the scenes.
The history of donations from corporations was left out from the documents given, and it
would be helpful to understand the impacts money had in the political process and in elections
before Citizens United v. FEC. Knowing specifically where money is coming from and has been
coming from in the past can be compelling and revealing data. Expanding on the specific
influences of Citizens United can further explain how a few corporations must be stopped from
ruling the election process in the U.S. because they do not represent the entire American
people. Therefore, the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. the Federal Election
Commission was unconstitutional. The First Amendment protects the free speech of the
American people, not of associations of individuals, the One Person, One Vote standard was
not upheld in this ruling, and this ruling allowed for corruption to thrive in the system of American
politics, which the government should work to eliminate.