Campaign Finance And The Supreme Court: Citizens United V. FEC Case

Superior Essays
Campaign Finance and the Supreme Court
In 1974 Congress passed (and then President Ford signed) a set of Amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. These amendments included prohibiting individuals from donating over a specific amount of money ($1000) to any one campaign, and limited the total contributions to $25,000 for all federal campaigns combined. The amendments also included limiting the amount of money that a candidate could contribute and spend on their own campaign and establishing public finance provisions, among other things. In Buckley v. Valeo, Sen. James Buckley, former Sen. Eugene McCarthy and other groups originally filed suit in US District Court, claiming the amendments were unconstitutional. They stated that
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FEC case. The case was brought about concerning a video critical of Hillary Clinton that the Citizens United group wanted to run on cable TV (through video on demand) with less than 30 days leading up to the election. The group wanted to run ads touting the video, and sought a preemptive injunction from the District Court allowing them to do so without fear of penalties or fines as proscribed by the Reform Act. They claimed that as a “bona fide commercial film maker” (in response to the FEC’s dismissal of prior complaints against Michael Moore and his “Fahrenheit 9/11” documentary ) they should not be held in violation of the law. They also stated that since it was to be available only by demand, it would not get near the exposure of a general broadcast and so should not be construed as overwhelmingly influential leading up to the election date. In their ruling, the lower court held that §203 of BCRA prohibiting political ads within 30 days of an election did apply and that Citizens United could neither run the film or ads regarding the film, as it was not paid for with funds regulated by the FECA. Although by now the election date in question had long passed, Citizens United appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. The court attempted to narrow the case down to simply if Citizens United should have been allowed to show the film to begin with, and ruled 5-4 …show more content…
FEC challenged Section 441 of the BRCA, which limits the amount of money that a contributor can give as an aggregate (total) to all candidates in a two year federal election cycle. McCutcheon was joined by the Republican National Committee in claiming that the constraints on donations were a denial of the First Amendment and a “burden on speech and association.” As with most of the prior cases, the District Court (within the law of BRCA that a 3 court judge be convened) initially dismissed the case, believing that the interest of preventing corruption or even the appearance of corruption to be more important. As with the other recent cases, the Supreme Court ruled in the same 5-4 bloc that aggregate limits be struck down with Roberts basically stating that the government has no business telling an individual how many candidates that they can donate to and

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