Citizens United V. Federal Elections Commission lead to the creatation of a fairly new phenomenon in politics: Super PACS. Research and provide background about this case. What are Super PACs and explain the effects this phenomenon has had on modern American Politics? In your opinion, do you believe that this Supreme Court ruling has protected free speech, or does it undermine democracy? Do you have an alternative opinion?
12 point font. Times New Roman, Double Spaced. Approximately 5 pages. Quality, not quantity. Cite your sources and have a bibliography (APA format, 3 sources minimum). All sources must be peer reviewed. Create a thesis and include in the introduction along with background information. Provide a solid conclusion paragraph at the end of your paper. Your paper must include citations within your paper!
Can use Supreme Court case itself.
American political journal
Can use jstor.org
It is indeed true of the American judicial-political system to at certain intervals midwife phenomenal landmark events that progressively serve to herald the birth of a new order. Citizens United have been the latest to orchestrate such a scenario through the case they successfully argued in U.S.A’s highest court. The case by Citizens United started when the group indicated a contemplation to broadcast a documentary entitled “Hillary: The Movie.” It was levelling scathing criticism towards Sen. Hillary Clinton who had launched a bid for democratic presidential nomination. It analyzed Hillary’s track record as a legislator and first lady. FEC found the movie as epitomizing electioneering communications which are prohibited by the McCain-Feingold law in the space of 30 days and 6 days of a primary and general election respectively. The case espoused issues of freedom of speech by which people can express their conscience and share thoughts to influence public discourse. Certain limitations to fundamental freedoms are necessary for the essential purpose of deterring pervasive outcomes that may undermine societal values.
Restrictions can be appreciated by looking at the motive behind them. In the prohibition of electioneering communication, the McCain-Feingold law targeted the kinds of communication that are paid for by corporations. Corporate political spending can be a basis for the subversion of the values of equality and fairness especially in the aspirations of election into political office (MacKenzia & Fund, 2016). Corporations can be the source of percolation of too much money into political practice through campaigns such as to defeat the foundations of aspiration to office. Allowing unrestricted infiltration of corporate capitation into politics skews the political playing field in the disfavor of the citizens who have no access to such resources. The consequence of which can be detrimental to democratic ideal of equality that has a promise of provision of an equal playing field (MacKenzia & Fund, 2016). The law barring electioneering communications was not essentially blocking enjoyment of freedom of speech as it can be easily seen on the face of it in the case. Instead, it is in the spirit of checking the extent of involvement of the power of corporations when they choose to use their “big-money” to either undermine or support a person’s candidature.
The substance and facts of the case espoused various legal and political issues worth of analysis. The majority noted the hostility of governments towards freedom of speech and finding it fictional for such to be the case in USA given the country’s laws and traditions. However, these words show that the majority only focused on the aspect of freedom of speech which Citizen United was entitled to (Hasson, 2016). However, they did not consider the nature of the petitioner as a corporate entity who by exercising their various freedoms may adversely intrude politics with effects that contravene American fundamental principles. This is rightly noted in the dissenting minority opinion that the majority ignored the common sense that had prevailed among American people that corporations with their power to compromise or corrupt systems have to be restricted as a way of protecting self-government (Hasson, 2016). The issue before the court then was not just about communications but the corporate player that was being allowed to creep into issues of political practice that would have detrimental effects not just to Hillary Clinton but other Americans especially who do not have profitable corporate networks.
The ruling has had ramifications especially in heralding the birth of the Super PAC era. Super PAC is in principle an expenditure-only committee that are independent according to the description in the federal election code. They serve the role of supporting or undermining the candidature of individuals for federal office (Hasson, 2016). Traditionally, Political Action Committees were limited in terms of the sources of their donations and the amounts they could accept (Hasson, 2016). However, following the Citizens United ruling, Super PACs came into existence. The ruling effectively determined that the restrictions that had been imposed on individuals and corporations in terms of the donations they could accept as being unconstitutional (MacKenzia & Fund, 2016). Political action committees since could accept contributions freely only on the account that they are not connected to candidates running for office. Super PACs have helped in the opening of Watergates of money that have washed the electioneering processes. On file, around 2400 super PACS are in existence as registered by the Federal Election Commission. Prove of the fact that the ruling has had a flooding effect in the wash of money into the political arena is the circulation in the 2016 election cycle (Myers, 2017). According to Myers (2017), the Center for Responsive Politics intimated that $1.8 billion were raised by Super PACS of which $1.1 billion was expended.
However, this new era of Super PACS has worked to confirm the fears of many following the Citizen United ruling. Now more than ever, wealthy corporations are enjoying a great advantage in influencing the election of candidacy. The electioneering process has become a multibillion dollar exercise that is about the corporate networks that one can marshal in his favor (Myers, 2017). Creation of campaign ads, television services and traversing the vast terrain has now been tilted to be a walkover for advantaged candidates. Those benefiting from Super PACs takeover reins of power preoccupied with vested interests and purchased loyalty that they have to uphold. Corporative machinations have therefore emerged to and been very outstanding the recent election cycle. These efforts by Super PACS have also allowed a room for infiltration of foreign entities and interest through funding which in many ways works to undermine the weaker candidates or interests that do not enjoy powerful backing. The American people therefore have become subjects of play through unrestricted spending to influence democratic exercises and public agenda. This is in favor of special interests which are propagated by punitive forces that purpose to make lucrative gains by holding a stake in governance through representation. The losers are the American ideals of fair practice that does not place any persons at undue advantage.
Citizens United ruling has marked a
new era of democratic subversion through unrestricted acceptance of
contributions. This has given operatives that advance special interest an
avenue to perpetuate inequality by placing powerful people at an advantage in
influencing elections. It also gives them power to work against the will of the
people by denying Americans an opportunity to evaluate candidates based on
issues. Instead, the candidate that has to be elected has become the one with
the ability to garner profitable networks as the ones that are the most
deserving for public office. Due to Super PACs, elections have been watered
down to become exhibitions of wealth as opposed to exhibitions of policies.
This necessitates the restrictions on the interests and players that can be
allowed into the political arena to hinder the operationalization of corrupt
networks at the detriment of public interest.
Hasson, R. (2016). A New Political Player: The Role of Super PACs in Congressional Elections. Retrieved from http://opencommons.uconn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1478&context=srhonors_theses.
MacKenzie, C. (2016). Outside Influence: Out-of –State money in the 2016 senate elections. Retrieved from https://uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Outside%20Influence%20-%20Out-of-State%20Money%20in%20the%202016%20Senate%20Elections-1.pdf.
Myers, C. (2017). Campaign finance and its impact in the 2016 presidential campaign. In The 2016 US Presidential Campaign (pp. 259-283). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.