End Citizens United is hoping for a successful year in its ongoing campaign to end what many regard as a disastrous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Handed down in 2010, this ruling jolted and continues to affect the nation’s political system.
— Aftab Pureval (@AftabPureval) May 8, 2018
The case was related to a film produced by a conservative political organization, Citizens United, which attacked Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was at the time running for president. Classifying the film as a campaign ad, the Federal Election Commission ordered the producers to reveal its funding source. Although the requirement was upheld by a lower court, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United in a 5-4 decision. The ruling essentially opened the door to unlimited political advertising by corporations. The outrage of critics could be summarized in the dissent by Justice John Paul Stevens, who expressed fear that the ruling could deeply affect the democratic principles that for so long were considered part of the United States.
The Citizens United case clearly helped Republican candidates and such wealthy Americans as the Waltons, the principal owners of the Wal-Mart company, and the Koch brothers, who run the second largest private firm in the United States. Some observers credited the court ruling with the huge Republican wave in 2010, when the party regained control of the U.S. House of Representatives. However, the action by the court and subsequent events produced a backlash by a number of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters. The resistance movement ultimately lead to the creation in 2015 of End Citizens United, an organization specifically dedicated to reversing the original decision.
End Citizens United works to raise funds that can be used to counter the corporate spending that burgeoned since the original ruling. In addition to supporting Democratic candidates, the organization has supported the passage of state measures that limit corporate involvement in American elections. Its ultimate goal is the passage of a constitutional amendment that defines free speech as an individual matter and not something that extends to the corporate domain.
End Citizens United employs the principle of grassroots funding, a technique used in the successful 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama. The organization raised $25 million in 2016 and has set a goal of $35 million this year. It is concentrating its efforts this year on defeating 20 Republican incumbents, two of whom are in the Senate and the rest in the House.
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