On January 21, 2010, the United States Supreme Court made a difficult decision in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee. The case initially began with what seemed like a simple question: “Should Citizens United be allowed to air a film critical of Hilary Clinton so close to election day?”
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act prohibits the airing of political media within 60 days of a general election and 30 days of a primary election. The answer seemed clear-cut until Citizens United argued that the prohibition infringed on the free speech clause located in the First Amendment. Declaring the statute unconstitutional, to say the least, complicated the case a bit. That was the beginning of a decade of precedent and campaign-finance law getting overturned.
While Republicans focus on the positive implications of our First Amendment rights, Democrats could not help addressing the bright yellow elephant in the room trying to stay out of sight. A statute declared unconstitutional is null and void in its entirety. For BCRA, this included the first portion of the Act, which regulated the financing and spending of political campaigns. The big picture here is that campaign funding, spending, and “electioneering communications” are now open to interpretation. Is there a limit to how far a campaign can go now?
This question is a concern that political action committee, End Citizens United, seeks to address. They are planning to spend millions in the following year to elect Democrats who are supporters of finance reform to replace Republican seats. Among the Republican representatives, they aim to target Duncan Hunter, Mimi Walters, Dana Rohrabacher, and Darrell Issa. Hunter is of particular interest as he is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice for the misuse of campaign funds.
The ECU formed in 2015 as a direct response to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee decision. Their core mission is to end corporations and wealthy entities from pouring ‘Big Money’ into campaigns to sway political interests in their direction. And Facebook, The first step in this journey is getting the 2010 decision overturned. Although it is likely a long hard road, ECU is ready and willing to put in the work. The committee is fully funded and supported by grassroots activists and supporters.
End Citizens United had $11.5 million funds raised as of October to put towards the new year. Strategically, they intend on targeting independent voters for more support. However, educating the public and pushing for finance reform is their top priority, and http://endcitizensunited.org/.