Ten Years Later: Citizens United

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the landmark Citizens United v FEC decision, and in that decade, it has become no less controversial.

At the time, pundits on MSNBC called it the “murder of what little democracy is left in this democracy.” President Obama claimed it would allow special interests to buy politicians outright. Democrats today continue to decry the decision, while fundraising off of the issue and campaigning on overturning the decision.

But all that rhetoric is hypocritical at best. As we’ve seen here in Michigan, the Left is more than happy to use “dark money” to their own advantage. The Sixteen Thirty Fund poured millions in from out of state to help Voters Not Politicians change Michigan’s redistricting law. Another group, Progressive Advocacy Trust, spent $2 million helping Gov. Whitmer get elected. Democrat-run Super PACs enabled by the Citizens United decision, like the “American Bridge 21st Century PAC” and “Priorities USA” already committed to spending hundreds of millions more in battleground states like Michigan.

So, is all this controversy earned? While the Left demonizes and demagogues, the sky hasn’t fallen. The so-called “dark money,” the bogeyman of liberal politics, has never amounted to even 5 percent of federal political spending. Even the ACLU actively sided with Citizens United and filed a brief against the FEC.

Ultimately, the Citizens United decision increased freedom of speech – not just for big corporations, but also for smaller nonprofits. It removed limits and barriers to speech. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of the 1st Amendment, Freedom of Speech, and your right to participate in the political process.

As Brad Smith, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission states at The Dispatch, “Citizens United matters a great deal, nonetheless…[because] the principle of Citizens United—that the government cannot ban certain speakers from the marketplace of ideas simply because it doesn't like who they are—is at the core of the First Amendment.”

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