In January 2010, The Supreme Court of the United States arbitrated a dispute between the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and a political action committee (PAC) called Citizens United. During the 2008 presidential election, Citizens United funded a political ad in the form of a 90-minute movie entitled “Hillary, The Movie”. The FEC ruled that the movie was a political ad and restricted it. Citizens United filed suit against the FEC and the case went to Federal Court. The federal court decided in favor of the FEC.
In 2010, two years after the election which brought Barak Obama to the White House, Citizens United took the dispute to the Supreme Court of the United States. By a vote of 5-4 (a single vote majority), Citizens United was awarded a victory which altered a century of campaign finance law. Corporations were decreed to be ‘people’ and awarded protection under the First Amendment. Restrictions on amounts of campaign contributions were erased and accountability for identifying donors was annulled.
On March 1, 2015, a new organization was established called End Citizens United. The name of the group is synonymous with its goal. One way to succeed would be to return to the Supreme Court to attempt a reversal of decision. The legislative route, a Constitutional amendment, would require a two-thirds approval vote by both houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states.
Those are long-term goals, while short-term help is crucial. End Citizens United organizes grassroots fundraising networks, often online such as social media outlets, to help fund campaigns of candidates who stand up for changes in campaign finance laws. Since End Citizens United’s goal is to help Republicans get elected by pouring unlimited corporate money into their campaigns, End Citizens United funnels funds raised by grassroots contributions to strong Democratic candidates and encourages them to refuse corporate campaign donations.
The goal of End Citizens United is the preservation of our democracy. In a democracy, elected officials should be chosen by the people. The first amendment right of free speech was intended for the people, not for large corporations. Many corporations in the United States are conglomerates with foreign interconnections which have no place in the election process of a democratic government.
One vote and one small contribution at a time, we the people can fight back against our laws and our leaders being bought and sold by large, powerful corporations.