Supreme Court, 5-4, Cancels Montana’s 100-Year-Old Election Financing Law
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
The same U.S. Supreme Court majority that tossed restrictions on corporate giving in federal elections has now nullified Montana’s century-old law banning companies from spending on campaigns.
Business interests and anti-abortionists last year challenged Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which prohibited corporations from contributing to political candidates and committees. After losing their case before the state’s Supreme Court, the plaintiffs—American Tradition Partnership, the Montana Right to Life Association PAC and two local Republican Central Committees—took their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Justices Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito ruled the Montana statute unconstitutional, using the same legal grounds employed in the 2010 Citizens United ruling that lifted federal limits on corporate spending in elections.
The plaintiffs, who said they were fighting “the corrupt and lawless political machine in Helena, as well as the anti-jobs radicals at the Sierra Club who want to kill pipelines and progress itself,” were pleased with the ruling
Joined in the minority by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer said the court missed an opportunity to review the flaws in Citizens United.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the White House was “disappointed” by the decision. “Citizens United mistakenly overruled long-standing cases that protected the fairness and integrity of elections,” Schultz said.
U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana), who supported Montana’s law, said the “fight is far from over.” Baucus has introduced legislation to amend the U.S. Constitution to say corporations aren’t people.
To Learn More:
Citizens United Doomed Montana Election Law (by Barbara Leonard, Courthouse News Service)
Supreme Court Reaffirms Citizens United, Tosses Montana Corporate Spending Ban (by Robert Barnes and Dan Eggen, Washington Post)
Bullock, Rehberg React to Supreme Court Campaign Decision (by Charles Johnson, Helena Independent Record)
American Tradition Partnership v. Steve Bullock-Breyer Dissent (U.S. Supreme Court) (pdf)
Supreme Court Freezes Montana’s 100-Year-Old Law Banning Corporate Campaign Spending (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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