‘Get money, spend money’: Should Citizens United v. FEC be overturned?
The Citizens United v. FEC case has been a greatly misinterpreted Supreme Court case for years. It has been demonized and held as an attack on democracy.
In reality, it is an aid to upholding the Constitution.
In a nutshell, Citizens United v. FEC gives corporations and groups the right to contribute to the political process with their funds, albeit not directly to a candidate’s campaign or PACs.
The Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting corporate donations or political-based advertisements was unconstitutional because it violated free speech.
The majority of arguments against the Citizens United ruling claim that outside spending will spark unprecedented cooperative lobbying and, given the resources that corporations have in comparison to individual donors, many worry the voices and interests of regular people will be muffled by corporations.
Historically, outside spending has always played a role in American politics. What Citizens United did was abolish the limit on how much outside groups can spend on campaigning. Therefore, outside groups, including corporations and other public organizations, can campaign in favor or against a candidate or focus on a topic that they feel the electorate should know about.
If we see past the anti-Citizens United propaganda, we will notice that it is actually healthy for the democracy since it helps voters understand issues that the campaigns gloss over.
By allowing outside donations to increase, the Supreme Court also granted the public more involvement and awareness of the social, political and economic panorama in which they live.
Even if Citizens United were as bad as it has been portrayed, actual numbers prove that, since the ruling, outside spending has not dramatically increased.
It has rather helped create more competitive races, giving new voices the chance to be heard. The first election after Citizens United had the lowest incumbent reelection rate since 1966, which helps prove that the ruling has helped newcomers have a chance at winning instead of running a dead-end campaign.
Citizens United is the equalizer of the political realm.
Before the ruling, the gap of expenditure between parties was bigger than it is now.
The case granted voice to major parts of the American economy, helped important issues surface in an environment controlled by the two major parties and diminished the inequality of spending.
Again, Citizens United is misunderstood and misinformation of its effects are making it harder for the public to understand why the Supreme Court ruled the way it did.
In the end, it is the public who has benefitted from the court’s decision, even if it thinks otherwise.
Stephanie Sanchez is a sophomore journalism, classics and political science major from Quito, Ecuador.