Citizens United should not be changed

Gillian Feehan

Contributing Writer

In 2010, the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case became a landmark decision by the Supreme Court that outraged many Americans. Essentially, this decision opened the door for corporations to funnel unlimited amounts of money into groups that support a candidate in federal elections, mainly through issue-focused advertisements. The Citizens United decision declared that governmental restriction on corporate spending in political campaigns violates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

Last month, Mass. Representative Jim McGovern proposed two Constitutional amendments that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling. The first amendment would allow Congress and states to regulate campaign spending through finance reform legislation, while the second amendment would overturn Citizens United by no longer allowing corporations to claim First Amendment rights. But is a Constitutional amendment necessary, and would it even be possible to pass one?

Citizens United hasn’t had the horrible effect that many people assumed it would, and it may not even be worth passing an amendment to overturn it. No party has received major benefits from the Citizens United decision. While candidates are now able to access more funding for their campaigns, super PACs are funding both Republican and Democrat campaigns.

The enormous amount of money donated by corporations is used to run campaign ads. These ads are not discussed with the candidate before being run, so the candidate may not even agree with the ad. The increase in campaign ads does not do very much to win votes for a candidate. After all, how many of you really pay attention to campaign ads, and how much do these ads affect your vote? Probably not much.

Even if there were enough benefits to warrant a Constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision, chances are, an amendment would never be ratified. Two-thirds of the House and Senate would need to approve the amendment, followed by three-fourths of states. With the rising costs of running a campaign for a seat in the House or the Senate, it is unlikely that members of Congress and Senators would willingly allow their financial resources for campaigns to diminish.

The Citizens United decision illustrates the increasing importance of money in elections, but the fundamentals haven’t changed. Elections are still about a candidate’s beliefs and plans for the future. People are going to vote for whichever candidate’s views are closest to their own, and I don’t believe that any amount of campaign money can change that.

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