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Citizens United Case

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United, Appellant v. Federal Election Commission held that parts of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign reform legislation were unconstitutional as contrary to the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. In essence, the 5-to-4 ruling allowed corporations, unions, and other organizations to spend freely to advocate concerning public policies and campaigns so long as that advocacy was not coordinated with candidates for public office. The majority opinion treated organizations as associations of citizens with strong constitutional rights. This treatment harkens back to Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Co. (1886), in which the Supreme Court accepted equal protection of the Fourteenth Amendment for corporations without hearing argument on the question. Citizens United arguably opened the door to ...

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