While this court case was decided back in 2010, people are still upset about this ruling. My politics class required us to write about it, so here goes.
Citizens United v. FEC
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging 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.”
– 1st amendment of the US Constitution
In the case of Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court was justified in ruling that parts of BCRA were unconstitutional. Prior to this ruling, Citizens United would be prevented from airing a documentary 30 days before an election, while allowing, for example, a media conglomerate, the right to promote candidates. To limit the rights of certain entities to publish information, expressly goes against what this country stands for.
America was founded on principles that maximize freedom from government. This country was made for people to be autonomous. Through the limiting of governmental powers, establishing a system of checks and balances and allowing representatives and people to make decisions, rather than a single leader, the founding fathers created the closest thing in existence to a “free” country.
When a government dictates what is allowed to be said or how an entity can spend their money, the entity, whether a business or a person, is no longer autonomous. The exchange of information in the marketplace of ideas is severely limited when the government, rather than the people, acts as the gatekeepers to information.
It was never the government’s job to dictate how a private entity spends its money. Unfortunately, there are people in our country that want to limit freedom. They want the government to be able to be in control of what messages make it out into the public. Regardless of what type of entity, whether it’s you or your family’s restaurant, or the union your friend belongs to or your favorite charity, these people wanted to dictate and limit others’ ability to spend the money they earned on promoting their ideas. People who want to restrict entities’ ability to spend their money as they deem fit, have motives that run counter to the Constitution.
According to Steve Simpson, from the Institute for Justice, “The larger & more powerful the government, the greater the incentive is to spend more & lobby more to take control of that government.” To prevent corrupt governments issuing monopolies on information, it’s imperative that corporations, unions, families and people are allowed to bring their ideas to the masses. Freedom of speech puts power in the hands of people, rather than that of governments and their cronies.
The first amendment was put in place so that people, not governments, could share information, without a governmental filter, to make the most informed decision about choices that affect their lives. The Supreme Court was justified in breaking down an unconstitutional barrier to free speech. This ruling was a victory for people over oppression and tyranny.