END CITIZENS UNITED Working To Take Big Corporate Money Out Of Politics
Every now and then in the judicial history of the United States, a ruling comes down from the Unites States Supreme Court that changes the course of American history. The Dred Scott decision in 1857 and the Brown decision in 1954 were two major decisions with broad ramifications.
In 2010, the United States Supreme Court made another momentous decision. This time, the court’s decision changed the way that political campaigns in the United States are financed. The case was Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
The case was based on an event which occurred during the 2008 presidential campaign. The Citizens United group launched a 90-minute spot called Hillary: The Movie. It was in essence a long political advertisement that was highly critical of Hillary Clinton.
The FEC asked Citizens United to state who funded the movie. However, Citizens United refused to disclose the information in spite of it being federal election law at that time.
The FEC fined Citizens United, but Citizens United took the FEC to court. All of the lower courts ruled in favor of the FEC. Everything changed at the Supreme Court. There, the justices handed down a 5 to 4 ruling in favor of Citizens United.
As a result of the ruling, corporations were now able to make virtually unlimited contributions to political campaigns. PACs could raise millions of dollars from corporations, and then they could use the money to back candidates of their choice.
Many organizations acted quite negatively against the Supreme Court’s decision. The ACLU and the League of Women Voters opposed the decision. The Democratic Party went so far as to place the overturning of the decision as a plank in their party platform.
In the wake of the Citizens United decision, a group calling itself End Citizens United was born in 2015. The main goal of End Citizens United is to see that the Citizens United decision is overturned by a vote in the Congress of the United States.
As part of the process in seeing the decision of the court overturned, End Citizens United is raising funds to provide money to candidates who are committed to bringing campaign finance reform to the American political system.
The Republican Party is currently not in favor of overturning the Citizens United decision. Therefore, the money distributed by End Citizens United is going to candidates within the Democratic Party who are seeking change.
To fund their efforts, End Citizens United uses grassroots funding that was used so effectively by the campaigns of Barack Obama. Small donations from people all over the country build a solid base of support for the future work of the organization.
In the 2016 election cycle, End Citizens United raised approximately $25 million to help candidates who supported their agenda. For the 2018 mid-term elections, End Citizens United wants to raise $35 million for its candidates.
For 2018, End Citizens United has endorsed 130 candidates in federal races. These candidates must pledge not to accept funding from any corporate PACs. They must be committed to campaign finance reform and ultimately overturning the Citizens United decision.
If End Citizens United is successful, many Democrats may be elected to office. This may help tip the balance of power back to the Democrats in the House, the Senate or in both chambers.