After just two years, the Supreme Court will, starting Thursday, reexamine one of its most controversial decisions: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Though it is unusual for the Supreme Court to revisit a case this quickly, the issue was forced by a Montana Supreme Court decision that came in direct opposition to Citizens United, reports ABC News.
In 2010, Citizens United declared that money is a form of free speech and that corporations can donate to political campaigns without financial limitations. Meanwhile, last year, the Montana Supreme Court upheld a decision that banned corporations from flooding state elections with money. “Unlike Citizens United, this case concerns Montana laws, Montana elections, and it arises from Montana history,” the ruling said.
Back in February, the Supreme Court temporarily stopped Montana’s decision from taking effect. Although Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer were opposed to the Citizens United ruling in 2010, they both agreed that a stay of Montana’s ruling was in order. “Lower courts are bound to follow [the Supreme] Court’s decisions,” Justice Ginsburg said.
Justice Ginsburg eager for review
Still, Ginsburg seems eager to discuss the issue again. The Citizens United decision states that corporate donations would not lead to corruption, which is certainly a debatable opinion. She believes it is worth reassessing the consequences of the decision “in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance.”
James Bopp Jr., an Indiana Republican Party National Committeeman, submitted a motion that called on the Supreme Court Justices to issue a summary reversal on Montana’s decision. In other words, Bopp felt the Supreme Court should not even hear arguments of this case since it defied a higher court’s ruling and disrespected precedent.
On the other hand, Montana’s attorney general, Steve Bullock, hopes that the Supreme Court agrees to hear oral arguments because even if it the Court does not reverse the Citizens United decision, it may provide “an opportunity for the Court to clarify its applications.”
Just how deep the Supreme Court will delve into Montana’s clash with Citizens United will have to be seen. Experts say that the Justices could make a ruling as soon as Monday.