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Author Topic: Citizens United Case Debate?  (Read 800 times)

Citylaw

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Citizens United Case Debate?
« on: June 12, 2014, 08:00:23 PM »
I was recently over hearing a bunch of people arguing about this case at a coffee shop and I know in law school we discussed this briefly, but I wanted to refresh my recollection and that it would make for an interesting thread.

My understanding of the case is as follows:

A conservative group Citizens United wanted to air a documentary bashing Hilary Clinton before the Democratic Primary election. There was a Federal Statute that stood in the way of airing the documentary.

Citizen United filed suit alleging the statute violated their free speech and the documentary should be allowed. The court then decided by a 5-4 funding the documentary was free speech and allowed, which in essence allowed corporations to provide more money to campaigns to protect freedom of speech.

First I was wondering if my understanding is even correct and what people think.

My two cents if my understanding is correct is that groups, corporations, people, etc should be able to say what they want to say, but I understand the argument that is creates an unfair playing field.

Overhearing that conversation made me think of this board and I wanted to see if anyone had additional insight.


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Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2014, 11:44:18 PM »
what was the federal statute? Was it just an issue of them not having enough funding to justify being able to air it?

Maintain FL 350

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Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2014, 01:06:11 PM »
That's pretty much my understanding of the case, too. Admittedly, I haven't actually read the full opinion so I could be wrong.

It's one of those cases where I really can see both sides of the argument, and they both have merit. One the one hand, there is always going to be disparity in economic influence. I mean, Bill Gates and the Koch brothers are going to be able to promote their causes more effectively than most people because they're rich.

Is that fair? Probably not, but that doesn't mean it's unconstitutional.

On the other hand, there is a real danger of becoming a corrupt oligarchy where the government is simply a bought and paid for instrument of the rich. Like the old Roman Senate, a bunch of elites pretending to care about the common people.

Interestingly, this particular phenomenon crosses party lines. I read an article recently about how this is the wealthiest Congress in history. I believe both of my Senators (Feinstein and Boxer) are worth hundreds of millions. Darrell Issa is worth something like  $600 million.

I think it's already at the point where you can't really win without huge personal wealth or the support of SuperPACS. It may not be unconstitutional, but I think the long term effects are probably negative.

Maintain FL 350

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Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2014, 08:03:16 PM »
While we're on the topic of controversial legal issues, I'm curious what you guys think of this.

I was recently having a conversation with some attorneys regarding California's decision to allow undocumented immigrants admission to the bar. The California Supreme Court was ready to strike down the state bar's admission of such individuals, when the legislature stepped in at the last minute and passed a new law allowing undocumented immigrants to gain admission to the bar.

Interestingly, the Supreme Court stated that although they can become licensed they still can't work (!) because only the federal government can confer employment eligibility.

What I found interesting about the conversation was that although the political view of the group was decidedly liberal, opposition to this law was overwhelming. Out of the twenty or so people, maybe one or two thought it was a good idea.

I'm not trying to start an argument about the very complex issue of illegal immigration, but I'm curious what other lawyers and law students think of this.       

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Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2014, 09:09:50 PM »
It's because people have made it into a "race" issue.
People pretend its about the issue itself, but it is not. It's VERY nation of origin specific.

Think about it for a minute. Even the most self identified "liberals" out there would still have a spasm if they found out he was actually an "undocumented afghani" (they might deny it, but they would) and they sure as hell wouldn't have licensed him.


Cali is famous for being one of the first places to have "legal" pot when it was "illegal" by the feds. I can't imagine that they wouldn't be the same way with this.
I am all but certain he will still practice.

For those not sure who we are talking about :    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/01/02/california-grants-law-license-to-illegal-immigrant/

Maintain FL 350

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Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2014, 09:37:30 PM »
It's because people have made it into a "race" issue.
If the person had been an illegal French Canadian, he never would have been allowed to be licensed.
It's as simple as that.

I'd have to agree with that.

One of the interesting points that a friend brought up was what this means for the Character and Fitness application. Generally, you're required to be in compliance with the law. I know people who went through hell because of really minor issues.

The legislature has basically said "If we feel sorry for you, you need not obey the law in order to become a lawyer." Honestly, if that's the case, why not be fair and give everyone a freebie? Why confer this huge benefit to only one group?

Here's the other issue: if this gentleman does violate the law by working in the U.S., is there any chance that the bar would discipline him? No way. On the other hand, if you lose your job and fall behind in your child support payments you can get ready to have your licensed suspended.

I hate I when things become this overtly politicized.   

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Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2014, 09:39:53 PM »
You caught it when I was removing the "white" part.
Oh well.......... :o

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Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2014, 09:41:28 PM »
I agree with the compliance with the law thing, there are guys denied for owing TOO MUCH STUDENT LOANS!  for crying out loud

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/ohio-supreme-court-denies-law-license-law-grad/story?id=12632984

Maintain FL 350

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Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2014, 10:06:48 PM »
Well, an illegal French Canadian could be of Haitian or Senegalese origin too! Your point is well taken, it's nation-specific. 

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Re: Citizens United Case Debate?
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2014, 10:52:23 PM »
Well, an illegal French Canadian could be of Haitian or Senegalese origin too! Your point is well taken, it's nation-specific.
I survive another day.  8)