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Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

Citizens United (plaintiff) released the documentary about Hillary Clinton, which portrayed her from the negative perspective (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012). Furthermore, the plaintiff wanted to increase the law availability in the video-on-demand, but it will violate the principles, which are established by the Federal Election Commission (defendant). The principles imply that these types of actions interfere with the “electioneering communication” and ban the organizations from utilizing the treasury funds and other independent funding for these purposes (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012, p. 32). In this case, the court utilized the precedent case of Austin v. Chamber of Commerce, but despite having different argumentation, the case was re-evaluated and solved in favor of the plaintiff. (affirmed for plaintiff). The plaintiff wanted to avoid the consequences, as the criminal penalties for the violation of the law apply.

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It could be said that the central issue lays in the interpretation of the First Amendment in the context of the electoral procedure. In this instance, the plaintiff did not agree with the federal election law, as it unreasonably limits the actions of the plaintiff by banning the release of the film due its inability to comply with the established regulations. In turn, the defendant tried to protect the logic behind the establishment of the law due to its presence for a long time. Nonetheless, the key issue was the definition of the principles of the First Amendment regarding the freedom of speech and determination the rights of individual citizens and corporations in this context.

Several laws and cases were involved in this lawsuit. One of them is the precedent case Austin v. Chamber of Commerce, as the case implies that banning of the involvement of the corporations in the election protects the society from “corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth” (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012, p. 33). The precedent made a clear difference between the individuals and corporations. Additionally, the First Amendment was also involved, as it was the primary cause of the lawsuit. It protects the freedom of expression by using the means of the press, speech, and assembly (Legal information institute: First Amendment, 2014). In this instance, these law aspects were in the center of discussion in this case.

As for the legal reasoning, the court refers to the fact that the precedent case, which was actively utilized to find the solutions to the similar situations, did not provide the profound analysis of the fundamental aspects of the First Amendment. Firstly, the Court states that the First Amendment “protects the rights of corporations to petition legislative and administrative bodies”, each corporation has individual perspective about the matter, and their actions do not cause the increase in corruption rates during elections (Halbert & Ingulli, 2012, p. 33). This conclusion is reasonable due to the absence of causing harm to the other legal entities. In turn, it reveals that the Austin v. Chamber of Commerce precedent case lacks logical and legal reasoning behind its decision-making.

Lastly, my opinion about the matter and future implications of the case have to be discussed. It could be said that the primary benefit of this case is bringing the understanding of the principles of the First Amendment, as with the development of technology the rights of corporations and individuals can be easily violated. In turn, it highly expands the rights of the corporations and grants them the right to express freely and clearly their opinions while participating in elections. It remains evident that this case has a beneficial influence on the corporate world and development of the economic and political relations.


Anderson, M. (2013). Emails (and other pure information) are not property. Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 8(5), 357-358.

Eggertson, L. (2013). Quality control. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 185(10), 467.

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Halbert, T., & Ingulli, E. (2012). Law and ethics in the business environment. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Holtzhausen, L., & Fourie, L. (2009). Employees’ perceptions of company values and objectives and employer-employee relationships: Theoretical model. Corporate Communications, 14(3), 333-344.

Legal information institute: First Amendment. (2014). Web.

Legal information institute: Products liability. (2014). Web.

Spector, M. (2009). GM broadens product-liability pact. The Wall Street Journal. Eastern Edition, p. B2.

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