The Montana Supreme Court has restored that court’s centuries-old banning of direct spending by corporations on political candidates or committees in a ruling released on Friday, December 30, 2011. Montana has gone head to head with the high profile U.S. Supreme Court decicision Citizens United v. FEC which held that Corporations are the same as citizens, and have the free speech rights of human beings.
which at its own site has a link to each justice granted a major win to Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock, who personally represented the state in defending its ban against corporate money intruding into elections. Attorney General Bullock stated:
“The Citizen’s United decision dealt with federal laws and elections-like those contests for president and congress. But the vast majority of elections are held at the state or local level and this is the first case that I am aware of that examines statelaws and elections.”
This case was decided under Montana’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, which itself was passed as a citizen’s ballot initiative. A corporate lobbying group, called “American Tradition Partnership” brought the suit in order to gain influence and overturn the Corrupt Practices Act and be able to spend corporate money to influence Montana’s elections.
Montana’s Supreme Court held that Montana has a “compelling interest” to uphold its rationally tailored campaign finance laws that include a combination of restrictions and disclosure requirements. The full, well reasoned and thoughtful 80 page decision of the Montana Supreme Court can be read here For the Montana Supreme Court website, where I was able to download this .pdf , use this link for the briefs as well as the decision. Note that I was able to download the decision without setting up an account, but it does trigger my pop up blocker when I access it from within Blue Mass Group, but not from within firefox or ie outside of this website; I am not sure why. The Montana Supreme Court site does have a disclaimer that says pop up blockers need to be temporarily disabled to view or download their opinions and .pdfs of briefs.
The year 2012 promises to be an interesting year.