Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) is a landmark case in United States campaign finance law, decided by [[The Supreme Court]] in 2010. The case centered on the question of whether the government could regulate independent political expenditures by corporations and labor unions, as well as other associations.
The case arose from a dispute over the 2008 documentary film "Hillary: The Movie," which was critical of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Citizens United, a conservative non-profit organization, produced and sought to distribute the film. The FEC argued that the film constituted an "electioneering communication" under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act, and that Citizens United was therefore subject to restrictions on corporate funding of electioneering communications.
In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the BCRA's restrictions on corporate independent expenditures were un[[constitution]]al, finding that they violated the First Amendment's guarantee of [[free speech (1A)]]. The majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, argued that the government had no compelling interest in limiting the political speech of corporations and that such restrictions amounted to censorship.
The Citizens United decision has had a significant impact on campaign finance in the United States, as it effectively opened the door for corporations, unions, and other organizations to spend unlimited sums on independent political expenditures. This has led to the rise of so-called "Super PACs" (political action committees), which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose political candidates, as long as they do not coordinate directly with the candidates' campaigns.
Critics argue that the decision has contributed to increased corporate influence in politics and has led to a lack of transparency in campaign financing.