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An Analysis of the Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission Ruling in the Context of Equal Right - Essay Example

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Name September 27, 2010 Who Deserves Free Speech? An Analysis of the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission Ruling in the context of equal rights The unspoken question that underlies debates about the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v…
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An Analysis of the Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission Ruling in the Context of Equal Right
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Download file to see previous pages By way of brief background, the case takes root in 2008 when a non-profit corporation, Citizens United, released a documentary entitled “Hillary” that was made to target the former Senator who was at the time vying for the nomination of the Democrats. The Supreme Court ruled that electioneering communications fell under the protective ambit of the First Amendment. It therefore overruled the case of Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which banned the use of treasury money by corporations to campaign for or against particular candidates, and the case of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, which upheld the restrictions on electioneering communications imposed on corporate expenditures. Many had called it an affirmation of the First Amendment as guaranteed by the Constitution, but many more felt that the Court was privileging corporate interests and was hijacking the integrity of the elections. There has also been an unfortunate tendency to label those who support Citizens United as conservatives and those who oppose it as more progressive. In this paper, I argue that the decision was in fact an affirmation of free speech and was in fact a celebration of civil liberties. I also argue that the opposite outcome would in the long run have more deleterious effects on the First Amendment. ...
h comes from a corporation.” It also states that “Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy—it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people—political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence.” It then proceeded to say that corporations and human beings both have a right to free speech that the government is dutybound to protect. Said Justice Kennedy, “Distinguishing wealthy individuals from corporations based on the latter’s special advantages of, e.g., limited liability, does not suffice to allow laws prohibiting speech.” Another point that was made by the decision was that deciding against Citizens United would render other institutions vulnerable censorship. The majority opinion reminds us that newspapers are corporations as well, and thus they may well be gagged from political communication if the Citizens case was decided in the opposite way. This does not bode well for the future of media and journalism. Indeed, their freedom must be zealously guarded as it constitutes a bedrock of our democracy. Opponents of the decision, however, are sceptical that the protection of free speech is indeed the agenda of the decision – noting that historically, corporate interests have often trumped public interest, and wondering if this is yet another example of the unfortunate pattern. “If the ban is struck down”, says Cohen (2009) corporations may soon be writing large checks to the same elected officials whom they are asking to give them bailouts or to remove health-and-safety regulations from their factories or to insert customized loopholes into the tax code.” Fears have been raised that the decision will see an emergence of corporate lobbying in even grander scale than present: ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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