For Law Students


Join Now

Citizens raises Cain in political speech (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission)

Share:
Quimbee-Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

This is the latest in a series of Quimbee.com case brief videos. Have you signed up for your Quimbee membership? The American Bar Association offers three months of Quimbee study aids (a $72 value) for law student members. And if you go Premium, you’ll receive Quimbee Legal Ethics Outline (a $29 value) as part of our Premium Legal Ethics Bundle. Ready to go all in? Go Platinum and get 3 years of unlimited access to Quimbee and 3 years of ABA Premium membership (nearly a $1,000 value) for just $499.


Few Supreme Court cases in recent history have garnered as much attention—or generated as much controversy—as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010).

At the center of the case was the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. Section 441(b) of that law barred corporations from publicly campaigning for or against any candidate prior to an election.

Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, sought a preliminary injunction against the Federal Election Commission to stop it from enforcing the prohibition. Citizens United had created a documentary attacking Hillary Clinton in the lead up to the 2008 election. Citizens United argued that any enforcement action against it would constitute an unconstitutional restriction on corporations’ political speech, which violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately took up the case and overturned the law, concluding that corporations have a right to political speech. Further, the Court held that governmental restrictions on independent political expenditures based solely on the speaker’s corporate status were invalid.

The decision was split, as was the public’s reaction to the ruling. Many hail the decision as a victory for freedom of speech, while others argue that the outcome threatened democracy by giving wealthy corporations too much power in the political process.

Quimbee Quimbee is one of the most widely used and respected study aids for law students. With a massive and growing library of case briefs, video lessons, practice exams, and multiple-choice questions, Quimbee helps its members achieve academic success in law school.