Facts: The Citizens United, the plaintiff in this case, is a nonprofit organization; however, it acquires some of its funding from for-profit corporations. The Citizens United created a documentary by the name of Hillary: The Movie (2008), in which interview and political commentators are shown urging people not to vote for Hillary Clinton. This documentary was first released in theaters and later on DVD. Subsequently, a 10-second and a 30-second promotional advertisement were created to encourage viewers to order the documentary on-demand. In the documentary, a discrediting statement was made about Hillary Clinton and then information on finding the film’s official website is provided. This documentary was basically a feature-length film advertisement aimed towards discrediting Hillary’s presidential candidacy. The Federal Election Commission (FEC), the defendant, presumed that the movie was an “electioneering communication” and therefore, the rules that governed the production of political ads applied to it, especially the limitations on sources of funding. After suing the FEC in federal court and ultimately losing, The Citizens United appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court controversially ruled in favor of The Citizens United that corporations, whether non-profit or for-profit, cannot be limited from funding electioneering broadcasts.
Issue: The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002 prohibited Hillary: The Movie (2008) from being broadcasted because it was deemed an electioneering advertisement, funded by a corporation. Is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA)’s section 441b under which, corporations that produce advertisements specifically to advocate for or against a presidential candidate within 60 days of the general election and 30 days of the primary elections constitutional?
Reasoning: “[T]he Government may not suppress political speech based on the speaker’s corporate identity.” Just like any other American citizen, Corporations, whether non-profit or for-profit, have been enjoying the Constitutional rights of Freedom of Speech for a long time. The government has no sufficient interest in completely banning such an advertisement. The court discusses the fact that the Congress and Judiciary have been constantly struggling to prevent corruption while selections are taking place, and protect the Freedom of Speech rights of every American citizen. The court also mentions that the creating news the very purpose Media corporations are created for. Completely banning every corporation from making political speech is too broad and unconstitutional.
The Court reached the conclusion that just because a corporation has the funds to support its political ideas does not give the Government to take away the rights of Freedom of Speech from that organization.