In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a ruling by the US District Court of the District of Columbia that prohibited conservative group Citizens United from promoting a political anti-Clinton film under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). With this ruling, the Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment protects the right of a non-profit (and later, for-profit) organization to freely engage in campaign spending. Critics of the decision argue that it establishes a legal basis for treating corporations as people; moreover, it opens the door to corruption by allowing unregulated spending by billionaire corporations. End Citizens United is a grassroots political action committee (PAC) that is seeking to reform the campaign finance system in the U.S.
End Citizens United was established in March of 2015, and its main goal is to enact a constitutional amendment that will overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (described above) and McCutcheon v. FEC, which removed limits on campaign spending by individuals or corporations. The proposed amendment will counter the notion that corporations should be treated as people, and it will remove secrecy in campaign spending. Moreover, their planned amendment will give regulatory power over campaign finances to Congress and the states.
Another major effort of End Citizens United is to back Democratic candidates who are fighting for campaign finance reform. In the first month of its existence, the PAC had already raised over $2 million dollars in mostly small contributions from individuals. In March of 2015, the group also partnered with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which enabled it to gather more support by reaching out to the campaign’s vast email list. In fact, the website of End Citizens United includes a petition thanking Clinton for her open support of a constitutional amendment to overthrow the Citizens United ruling.
Some pundits question the likelihood of such an amendment ever being passed, since no constitutional amendment has been passed in nearly 25 years. However, they acknowledge the value of groups like end Citizens United in keeping awareness of campaign finance issues high and garnering support for local campaign finance reform initiatives.