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Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Sullivan

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Citation. 130 S. Ct. 876.

Brief Fact Summary. Citizens United created a documentary aimed at Senator Clinton during the 2008 race, and ran ads to urge others to order it on-demand to watch.


Synopsis of Rule of Law. Congress may not ban political speech based on a speaker’s corporate identity.


Facts. The Citizens United is a nonprofit organization with a 12 million budget. Some of its funding comes from for-profit corporations. This organization created a 90 minute documentary named Hillary, which names Hillary Clinton and shows interview and political commentators all who urged voters to not vote for Hillary. The organization first released the movie in theaters and then on DVD. Afterwards the organization produced two 10-second ads and one 30-second ad promoting viewers to order the documentary on-demand. A negative statement about Hillary is made and then information on how to find the website is given. This movie is basically a feature-length negative advertisement against Hillary.


Issue. Whether section 441b of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act BCRA which criminalizes ads produced by corporations that expressly advocate for or against a candidate within 30 days of the primary elections and within 60 days of the general election is constitutional.


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