In the News: Reason: Citizens United Decision Fulfilled Earl Warren’s First Amendment Vision

By Zac Morgan

Four years have come and gone since the Supreme Court handed down Citizens United v. FEC, striking down a federal law that prohibited a corporation from showing a movie critical of then-Senator Hillary Clinton shortly before the first round of Democratic primaries. (Although Citizens United intended to air the film in 2008, it had to wait until the second year of the Obama presidency before learning the Constitution protected the movie.)  

Back then, the response by the campaign finance control crowd to Citizens United was vicious. In one of his hyperventilating ukases, then-MSNBC frontman Keith Olbermann decreed Citizens United the worst decision since Dred Scott. Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee which oversees nominations to the federal courts, charmingly suggested that the case “could threaten the public’s confidence [sic] the Court’s impartiality.” The president of the United States took time out of his State of the Union address to lecture the Supreme Court, claiming (incorrectly) that Citizens United overturned a century of law and would allow foreign money to dominate our elections.

If only the Supreme Court had listened to the wisdom of Chief Justice Earl Warren and his likeminded justices, we would never have had to deal with Citizens United. In fact, had the Supreme Court listened to Chief Justice Warren, as well as FDR appointees William O. Douglas and Hugo Black, the holding of Citizens United would have been the law of the land for the past 57 years.

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.