Citizens United v. FEC

April 2nd, 2010 - by Quincy

A few weeks before the 2008 primary election, a non-profit corporation called Citizens United tried to release a video criticizing Hillary Clinton. Federal campaign finance laws prohibited this, so Citizens United sued. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that those campaign finance laws were unconstitutional because they violated the First Amendment. President Obama publicly criticized the Supreme Court’s decision.

This video explains why President Obama was wrong and the Supreme Court was right.

There are three parts to this video.


10 Responses to “Citizens United v. FEC”

  1. Sean says:

    Nice work on the videos, they were quite clear and convincing. They were still quite dense – my wife was nodding off partway through the first one, and never made it to the second two, but it is a pretty nuanced issue. I think the video helped me pay attention anyway.

    Nice jabs too – e.g. “congress can’t pass up a chance to create a new bureaucracy.”

  2. Jacob says:

    Thanks for the great video. This was way better than any of the news commentary on the subject.

  3. Caleb says:

    Awesome video. It’s nice to see the considerations the Supreme Court took into account in their decision. It appears they made the correct one. I’ll be looking forward to the next video.

  4. joyce smith says:

    let’s just hope that all the positive comments on cu v fec aren’t plants, when 80% of americans polled oppose the clear and present danger of the scotus 1/21/10 decision.

    but what’s next: if corporations have now been given human ”unalienable” rights which are protected by the constitution (which btw does NOT mention corporations ~ for the simple reason that it’s about We the People) then of course they can vote? (do they need to? they already count the votes…hmmm…)

    corporations are not We the People. period end of discussion.

  5. Quincy says:


    Believe me, this blog isn’t well visited enough to make it worth anyone’s while to plant fake comments about the posts. 🙂

    As I thought was clear from the video, corporations are simply organizations of people. Why should a corporation be barred from speech simply for being an organization? Should other organizations of people such as clubs, professional groups, or even political parties be barred from political speech as well? After all, clubs, professional groups, and political parties are not We the People either by your reasoning. So what is it about a corporation that makes you think they don’t deserve the protection of the First Amendment?

    If we were to apply your reasoning further, the government would be permitted to abolish a corporation’s right to hold property as well because it is not a person. What makes the right to hold property different from the right to speak?

    Lastly, your claim about 80% of people disagreeing with the Supreme Court’s decision, is worse than irrelevant. When the government violates the Constitution, no amount of public approval makes it okay. That is why Supreme Court justices are appointed rather than elected by the people.

  6. John Pawlowski says:


  7. El Berto (Lithuanian for The Berto) says:

    Amen to the amen.

  8. […] the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (see explanatory video here if needed), Congress seems poised to resume its underhanded and self-serving efforts to control […]

  9. Adam says:

    Nice job on the video. It occurred to me that this case is a textbook example of how the Constitution was originally intended to protect our rights. In this case, the Supreme Court struck down part of a law that infringed the First Amendment rights of a minority. The First Amendment rights of most of us were not substantially infringed, except insofar as we would be prevented from hearing the political messages of these corporations and organizations. Therefore, this seems to be a case of the court stepping in to prevent the majority from depriving the minority of a fundamental right. Political speech is at the core of what the First Amendment was intended to protect. Very informative presentation.

  10. Ed Donegan says:

    I found it a good introduction to free speech law in general as well a good analysis of the case (though I am a lay person.)

    To achieve the necessary scope of the First Amendment law topic the content certainly had to be edited down from all that could have been said, including editing out much that could beneficially been said.

    Again, as a lay person, I am impressed with the powerful sweep of language used in law and the fundamental principles that speech can convey.

    If this were tuned to an audience willing to commit to a longer presentation I would liked to have seen some excerpts from the opinion, such as this one addressing the anti-distortion rationale.

    “Premised on mistrust of governmental power, the First Amendment stands against attempts to disfavor certain subjects or viewpoints.”

    I thought the closing note of video 3 was especially powerful. A government with too much power is especially one which must be bought off or curried for favor.

    Relatedly, I think a Government stirring populist masses against industry even creates an extortive incentive for government to flex power in that it can then extract contributions or “access payments” from those they threaten to regulate.

    And when Government does propose to regulate an industry, as is ever more the case, those in the industry do have an expertise (and role in the debate) that the listener, the voter, is entitled to hear.

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