Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

George Thomas

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Rights Information

© 2018 Kathryn G Ridenour


This work argues that the Supreme Court incorrectly decided the case of Citizens United v. FEC (2010). Beginning with an analysis of past campaign finance law and jurisprudence, this paper then outlines the fact of the case in Citizens United and assesses each of the principle claims made by the majority and dissenting opinions. The analysis then pivots to a practical examination of the immediate legal and regulatory consequences of the decision, namely detailing the advent of super PACs. Furthermore, this paper evaluates the magnitude of super PAC and related dark money spending in the years following the decision and speculates about its impact on elections and shifting public opinion. Drawing from the historical precedent and empiric spending reality, this paper formally reargues the Citizens United case, striking down the five identified premises in the majority opinion’s ruling. These premises are as follows: money is speech, corporations are entitled to the same rights as natural persons, the governmental anticorruption interest is limited to only quid pro quo exchanges, the antidistortion rationale is unconstitutional, and disclosure requirements provide sufficient information to ensure transparency. This inquiry concludes that unlimited corporate independent expenditures have a distortionary impact on the electoral system, presenting a unique corruption threat. As such, Citizens United should be formally overturned.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.