Montana Supreme Court Rejects Citizens United

In a move that many applauded as a victory for American democracy, the Montana Supreme Court restored a ban on corporate money in state politics on Friday.

In 2010, the Supreme Court approved the controversial Citizens United decision, which essentially granted corporations the same rights to privacy and free speech as actual humans. In light of Citizens United, Western Tradition Partnership, a clandestine Colorado corporation, a Montana sportsman’s group, and local businessman sued the state to overturn a hundred year-old law banning direct corporate spending on electoral campaigns. A lower court agreed with them, saying the Supreme Court’s ruling trumped the state law.

But Attorney General Steve Bullock wouldn’t back down that easily.

“The Citizens United decision dealt with federal laws and elections – like those contests for president and Congress,” said Bullock, who is now running for governor, told the Great Falls Tribune. “But the vast majority of elections are held at the state or local level, and this is the first case I am aware of that examines state laws and elections.”

Upon reversing the lower court’s decision, The Montana Supreme Court said the state has a “compelling interest” to uphold its rationally tailored campaign-finance laws that include a combination of restrictions and disclosure requirements.

“Organizations like WTP that act as a conduit for anonymously spending by others represent a threat to the political marketplace,” wrote Mike McGrath, Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court, for the majority. “Clearly the impact of unlimited corporate donations creates a dominating impact on the political process and inevitably minimizes the impact of individual citizens.”

Unfortunately, the two members of the Montana Supreme Court who dissented say the victory might be short-lived. Ultimately, the Supreme Court decides the law of the land, and however misguided it may be, state courts are obligated to uphold it.

Related Reading:

Vermont Introduces Resolution To Ban Corporate Personhood

LA City Council Agrees With OWS: Corporations Are Not People

The Story of Stuff Creators Explain Citizens United [Video]

h/t AlterNet

Image Credit: Flickr – takomabibelot

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Dan Nickerson
Dan Nickerson1 years ago

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Alberto Gtz.
Alberto G.1 years ago

Two secret new global pacts -- the TPP and TTIP -- could massively increase the power of corporations to sue our governments
Check this:

Dr Clue
Dr Clue3 years ago

Anyone ever see that fiction of corporate person-hood spend a night in jail , or lay down it's life in defense of the country?

If indeed a corporation is a "person" , I demand a little habeas corpus (produce the body).

Frances C.
Frances C.3 years ago

That is great news. Hope it spreads to other intelligent states, and spreads quickly.

Stanley Balgobin
Stanley R.3 years ago

Good Job Montana !!

Gary Ansorge
Gary Ansorge3 years ago

I'll believe corporations are people when a corporation sits in an electric chair and gets fried.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L.3 years ago

I voted yes on the poll but I wanted to vote no, the reason is that the SCOTUS decision on Citizens Untied was wrong and political. The Chief Justice and those that voted in favor of Citizens Untied should be impeached. And further when the Democrats win back the Congress they should write an amendment making sure that it strikes down this stupid and blatant political decision.

Joan M.
Joan Makurat3 years ago

It's interesting that the Republicans are all for states' rights when something favors their party, but indignant when it doesn't.

Helen A.
Helen A.3 years ago

Right on Montana....this should apply to every state...

Tamara H.
Tamara H.3 years ago

States rights. It's central to our Republic.