Few Supreme Court decisions have been as controversial in recent years as the Citizens United case. For those of you who don’t know, Citizens United v. Federal Electoral Commission (that’s its full title) originated as a dispute between some movie-makers (Citizens United) and the FEC over some basic freedom of speech rights. The FEC said that Citizens United couldn’t release a film critiquing then-Senator Hillary Clinton because the release date conflicted with a law called McCain-Feingold. The law, sponsored by John McCain and Russ Feingold, prohibited corporations from creating political ads for elections less than 60 days away. Citizens United said that was unfair, because the first amendment protects their right to produce films and documentaries like the one they proposed, regardless of whether or not they painted a politician in a positive light.
The court sided with Citizens United. By a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court found that corporations, like people, are protected under the first amendment. As corporations tend to support pro-job, pro-business candidates (that is, Republicans), many liberals lost it. Afraid that corporations would give Republicans a financial edge, many Democrats tried to paint the decision as one which “sold elections” to wealthy companies, who could use their deep pockets to fund Super PACs, entities that can campaign for a candidate without coordinating with him (Obama later flip-flopped on the issue and now has his own Super PAC, by the way). A typical reaction to the Citizens United decision was this one, seen by high school government classes around the country to “educate” unsuspecting students about current events:
Seems pretty well put together, doesn’t it? Those corporations are big, nasty enterprises, aren’t they? Look at them, buying elections like that! We need to put the people back in charge! Right?!
Actually, no. We don’t need to put the people back in charge of the voting process because they’re already in charge! Also, so much for fairness and unbiased teaching. The video you just watched absolutely bludgeons corporations and moneymaking entities to death without any consideration of the argument that actually won in front of the Supreme Court! Fortunately, people like Lee Doren still have some respect for the facts. Mr. Doren’s response to the propaganda video above does a beautiful job of dismantling it for you, in a way far more succinct and effective than I could manage:
(Click here if you’re having trouble viewing it to watch it on YouTube)
Pretty convincing rebuttal, if you ask me. Mr. Doren has some really great content on YouTube, by the way. His channel, HowTheWorldWorks, has over 40,000 subscribers and 7.4 million video views. But I digress. The main point here is simple. Corporations are made up of people, and people have rights. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Citizens United opened up the political process for many groups of people who otherwise would have been shut out, and given more protection to the rights of all in America. Instead of attacking people with misleading propaganda, we should applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to defend our freedoms from a tyrannical majority at a time when no one else in Washington would dare to do the same.