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Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010)

Assess whether the Supreme Court ruled correctly in Citizens United v. F.E.C., 2010, in light of constitutional principles including republican government, freedom of speech, and property rights.

Students will:

  • Understand the Founders’ reasons for affording political speech the greatest protection.
  • Apply principles of republican government and freedom of speech to evaluate the decision in Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010).


  • Handout A: Agree or Disagree
  • Handout B: Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010) Background Essay
  • Handout C: Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010)


  1. Federalist #10 by James Madison (1787)
  2. Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington (1787)
  3. The First Amendment (1791)
  4. Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819)
  5. “The Bosses of the Senate,” Joseph Keppler (1889)
  6. New Nationalism Speech, Theodore Roosevelt (1910)
  7. Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
  8. Citizens United Mission Statement (1988)
  9. McConnell v. F.E.C. (2003)
  10. Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010), Majority Opinion
  11. Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010), Dissenting Opinion
  12. Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010), Concurring Opinion
  13. “Another Dam Breaks,” Matt Wuerker (2010)

During his 2010 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama did something very few presidents have done: he openly challenged a Supreme Court ruling in front of both chambers of Congress and members of the Supreme Court of the United States. That ruling, Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010), and the President’s commentary on it, reignited passions on both sides of a century-long debate: to what extent does the First Amendment protect the variety of ways Americans associate with one another and the diverse ways we “speak,” “assemble,” and participate in American political life? It is this speech — political speech — that the Founders knew was inseparable from the very concept of self-government.

This Homework Help video asks students to consider what the relationship between money and politics should be.

Student Handouts