It goes without saying that one of the basic principles of a democracy is that everyone is allowed to have an equal voice. For a country like the United States the idea of everyone having an equal voice in a democracy and a fair shot at building a good life for themselves is a big deal.
The United States can trace its origins back to Great Britain. Arguably many of the people who would play a role in the creation of the United States came from a society where social mobility was incredibly restricted and class status was irrevocably fixed. It was difficult for someone who was born into poverty in 17th century Great Britain to rise through the ranks to a higher class or even consider becoming a member of the nobility. According to crunchbase.com, arguably the principles that are embedded in the United States’ constitution are meant to counteract this or to reject this idea that a person’s destiny can or should be determined by the accident of his or her birth. One of the measures that is meant to maintain this equality is the electoral process through which people choose a leader to guide the government at the federal, state and local levels.
The idea of everyone having an equal voice is a very simple one but it is also a notion that is being challenged by rulings like Citizens United. Citizens United is the phrase used as shorthand to refer to a controversial Supreme Court ruling that resulted in corporations being given the same free speech rights as human citizens when it comes to spending money on elections. Essentially the ruling established that corporations’ campaign donations would be protected under the First Amendment under the notion that not to do so would infringe upon a corporation’s right to exercise free speech. As political magazine Mother Jones put it the Citizens United decision essentially undid a century “of precedent” where campaign finance rules were concerned. It has created a political landscape where entities known as superPACs (PAC stands for political action committee) can roam freely and inject large amounts of capital into political races that benefit the corporation’s interests even if those interests harm the wellbeing of everyday people.
There are efforts underway that seek to overturn and end the Citizens United ruling. One of them is a political action committee that is known as End Citizens United. The group’s goal is get “big money” out of the electoral process and according to USA TODAY it has raised funds to accomplish that aim. End Citizens United raised 4 million in the first quarter of 2017 in its bid to elect candidates who will advocate for campaign-finance reform. The group’s executive director said that approximately 100,000 people donated to the organization in the first quarter.
In 2008, James Bopp was laughed out of the court by Judge Royce Lamberth when he was representing his client, Citizens United, a small conservative nonprofit organization. The Terre Haute, Indiana-based lawyer wanted his client to be allowed to air a movie title Hillary during the Democratic presidential primaries. The film shows Hillary Clinton as a European socialist and a ruthless political strategist. In the movie, Bill Clinton is accused of kissing and hugging Kathleen Willey, starring in the movies while in the White House. Kathleen further accuses Clinton of scheming to kill her cat. During the hearing, Judge Lamberth argued that the 90-minute film was different from other 60 minute films aired on on-demand TV.
The Federal Elections Committee (FEC) also stopped Citizens United from airing the film as it lacked the identity of who paid for it. Although Bopp argued that his client deserved First Amendment rights, his case wasn’t convincing enough. Two years later, Bopp’s arguments were adopted by the Supreme Court in 2010. This marked the birth of Citizens United, an amendment that allowed heavy spending in campaigns. In the case, Citizens United v. FEC, First Amendment rights were extended to corporations. After the case, 100 years old campaign- finance regulations were scrapped off. Today, Bopp works hard to ensure that no campaign finance laws are enacted. Reformers are working hard to reverse the 2010 Supreme Court ruling and sees Bopp as an opportunist who strives to widen loopholes in the law to benefit a few wealthy politician and corporations.
End Citizens United Target $35 Million by the 2018 Midterms
End Citizens United, a super political action committee devoted to reversing the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that allowed big and corrupt money into the United States elections plans to raise $35 million for the 2018 congressional elections. By the end of March 2017, the PAC had already contributed $4 million. Last year, the organization contributed $25 during the presidential elections and thus raising $35 million will be a significant step ahead. A total of 100,000 individuals have so far participated. Among this, 40,000 donors are new to the organization. This is a manifestation of how grassroots are committed to reverse the 2010 Supreme Court ruling.
According to Tiffany Muller, End Citizens United president, and executive director, Democrats have been angered by the Trump administration and are ready to fight back. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch is also not favored by the furious Democrats. As a proof of their commitment, the grassroots contributed $4 million towards the special election of Congressman Jon Ossoff of Georgia. End Citizens United partnered with two dozen groups to urge Republican Senators whose campaigns were funded by Betsy DeVos to rescue themselves from voting on her confirmation.