Citizens United (organization)

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Citizens United
Citizens United official logo
Motto Dedicated to restoring our government to citizen control.
Formation 1988
Type Non-profit
Headquarters Washington, DC
President, Chairman
David Bossie

Citizens United is a conservative non-profit organization in the United States. Its president and chairman is David Bossie. It is best known for the U.S. Supreme Court case on campaign finance Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.


Citizens United's stated mission is to restore the United States government to "citizens' control" and to "assert American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security." To fulfill this mission, Citizens United undertakes various marketing projects, including television advertising and feature-length documentaries.[1]

Citizens United was founded in 1988. David Bossie has been its president since 2000. Its offices are on Pennsylvania Avenue in the Capitol Hill area of Washington, D.C. The associated Citizens United Foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.


Citizens United is known for its support of conservatives and money in politics. The group produced a television advertisement that reveals several "surprisingly liberal" legislative actions taken by John McCain,[2] which aired on Fox News Channel.[3] On October 2, 2006, in reaction to revelations of a cover-up of inappropriate communications between Congressman Mark Foley and teenage pages, Citizens United president David Bossie called on Dennis Hastert to resign over his role in covering up the scandal.[4]

American Sovereignty Project[edit]

The American Sovereignty Project is the lobbying arm of Citizens United, focused on issues related to American sovereignty and national security. Its goals include a complete withdrawal from the United Nations, defeat of the treaty establishing a permanent International Criminal Court, and of the rejection of its perception of the formation of a one-world government.[1]


Citizens United Productions[edit]

Citizens United Productions, headed by president David Bossie, has released 21 feature-length documentaries. The following is a list of films produced by Citizens United Productions.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission[edit]

Citizens United was the plaintiff in a Supreme Court case that began as a challenge to various statutory provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), known as the "McCain-Feingold" law. The case revolved around the documentary Hillary: The Movie, which was produced by Citizens United. Under the McCain-Feingold law, a federal court in Washington D.C. ruled that Citizens United would be barred from advertising its film.[5] The case (08-205, 558 U.S. 50 (2010)) was heard in the United States Supreme Court on March 24, 2009. During oral argument, the government argued that under existing precedents, it had the power under the constitution to prohibit the publication of books and movies if they were made or sold by corporations.[6] After that hearing, the Court requested re-argument specifically to address whether deciding the case required the Court to reconsider those earlier decisions in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. FEC. The case was re-argued on September 9. On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court overturned the provision of McCain-Feingold barring corporations and unions from paying for political ads made independently of candidate campaigns.[7]

A dissenting opinion by Justice Stevens[8] was joined by Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, and Justice Sotomayor. It concurred in the Court's decision to sustain BCRA's disclosure provisions, but dissented from the principal holding of the majority opinion. The 90-page dissent argued that the Court's ruling "threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions across the Nation. The path it has taken to reach its outcome damage to this institution." The dissent also argued that the Court's holding that BCRA §203 was facially unconstitutional was ruling on a question not brought before it by the litigants, and so claimed that the majority "changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law." Stevens concluded his dissent with:

At bottom, the Court's opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.

In September 2010, Americans United for Life Action - a 501(c)4 affiliated with Americans United for Life - ran radio ads[9] advocating that incumbent Members of Congress John Boccieri, Chris Carney, and Baron Hill be defeated. News reports at the time indicated that the ads were "among the first ads to capitalize"[10] on the decision.


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