When the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court made its final decision regarding the landmark case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, there was an aftermath that still exists today. The American political system was not only made non-transparent because of the ruling, but the long-term democracy effects were also seen by End Citizens United as something that should be prevented.
End Citizens United immediately swung into action to overturn the ruling and to do its part to mitigate the repercussions of a decision that it believes was severely flawed.
There were other landmark court cases that required American’s to stand against a narrow segment of the population that believed fairness and balance of power weren’t part of the Nation’s founding principles. Court cases from history such as Dred Scott v. Sandford, Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade, show how American democracy sometimes needs to be challenged to bring change, even though the consequences and ramifications of initiating those cases were considered controversial at the time.
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The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling began from a simple case of non-disclosure that Americans had a right to and the laws demand. End Citizens refused to disclose the responsible parties for a campaign ad, disguised under the premise that it was a movie, that the conservative group wanted to run against then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Based on FEC rules, the funding of the ad needed to be disclosed, which the group refused, when an FEC complaint was filed. Although Clinton was no longer a candidate and Barrack Obama was already sworn in as the 44th President, End Citizens took its case to the Supreme Court. The 5-4 ruling overturned the FEC ruling and transparency in the political process became almost extinct according to politifact.com Justice Stevens dissented on the ruling and said, “A democracy cannot function effectively when its constituent members believe laws are being bought and sold.”
The dissent is at the core of End Citizens United’s mission. The ramifications of the ruling are widespread, and there are many professionals in the political process that understand that “new rules” are being established as a result of the court’s decision, which has allowed corporate campaign contributions to infiltrate the system. The unlimited contributions are largely anonymous and put democracy in jeopardy.
The strategy of End Citizens United is to disrupt the political “gaming of the system” by rooting out offenders who continue to circumvent transparency. While overturning the ruling is a priority, End Citizens United has advanced its cause by endorsing candidates who are in favor of campaign finance reform and by supporting them in their efforts as incumbent’s, or challenger’s, in order to break the corrupt cycle.
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