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Case summary[ edit ] In the case, No. The Movie in broadcasts or paying to have it shown on television within 30 days of the Democratic primaries. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and partially overruled McConnell v.
Federal Election Commission The case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties, which remain illegal in races for federal office.
The FEC dismissed the complaint after finding no evidence that broadcast advertisements featuring a candidate within the proscribed time limits had actually been made. In dismissing that complaint, the FEC found that: The Commission found no reason to believe the respondents violated the Act because the film, associated trailers and website represented bona fide commercial activity, not "contributions" or "expenditures" as defined by the Federal Election Corporate finance essay questions Act.
The FEC, however, held that showing the movie and advertisements for it would violate the Federal Election Campaign Act, because Citizens United was not a bona fide commercial film maker.
By earlyit sought to run television commercials to promote its political documentary Hillary: The Movie and to air the movie on DirecTV.
District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the constitutionality of several statutory provisions governing "electioneering communications".
The Movie, and to enjoin the Federal Election Commission from enforcing its regulations. Citizens United also argued that the Commission's disclosure and disclaimer requirements were unconstitutional as applied to the movie pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Federal Election Commission v.
Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. In accordance with special rules in section of the BCRAa three-judge court was convened to hear the case. FEC had found the disclosure requirements constitutional as to all electioneering communications, and Wisconsin RTL did not disturb this holding because the only issue of that case was whether speech that did not constitute the functional equivalent of express advocacy could be banned during the relevant pre-election period.
Stewart representing the FEC argued that under Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commercethe government would have the power to ban books if those books contained even one sentence expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate and were published or distributed by a corporation or labor union.
At the subsequent conference among the justices after oral argument, the vote was 5—4 in favor of Citizens United being allowed to show the film. The justices voted the same as they had in Federal Election Commission v.
A draft concurring opinion by Justice Kennedy argued that the court could and should have gone much further. The other justices in the majority agreed with Kennedy's reasoning, and convinced Roberts to reassign the writing and allow Kennedy's concurrence to become the majority opinion.
The final draft went beyond critiquing the majority. Toobin described it as "air[ing] some of the Court's dirty laundry," writing that Souter's dissent accused Roberts of having manipulated Court procedures to reach his desired result — an expansive decision that, Souter claimed, changed decades of election law and ruled on issues neither party to the litigation had presented.
When he did, the "Questions Presented" to the parties were, however, more expansive, touching on the issues Kennedy's opinion had identified. According to Toobin, the eventual result was therefore a foregone conclusion from that point on.
Federal Election Commission to decide the case. The Court also overruled that portion of McConnell that upheld BCRA's restriction of corporate spending on "electioneering communications".
The Court's ruling effectively freed corporations and unions to spend money both on "electioneering communications" and to directly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates although not to contribute directly to candidates or political parties.
The majority ruled that the Freedom of the Press clause of the First Amendment protects associations of individuals in addition to individual speakers, and further that the First Amendment does not allow prohibitions of speech based on the identity of the speaker.
Corporations, as associations of individuals, therefore have free speech rights under the First Amendment. Because spending money is essential to disseminating speech, as established in Buckley v. Valeolimiting a corporation's ability to spend money is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of its members to associate effectively and to speak on political issues.
The decision overruled Austin because that decision allowed different restrictions on speech-related spending based on corporate identity.
Additionally, the decision said that Austin was based on an "equality" rationale — trying to equalize speech between different speakers — that the Court had previously rejected as illegitimate under the First Amendment in Buckley.
The Michigan statute at issue in Austin had distinguished between corporate and union spending, prohibiting the former while allowing the latter. The Austin Court, over the dissent by Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and O'Connor, had held that such distinctions were within the legislature's prerogative.View MBA application requirements for Columbia Business School's MBA programs.
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