Corporations Are Not People in Montana


     BLLINGS, Mont. (CN) - Montana voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved an initiative stating "that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings."
     Voters approved Initiative 166 by 75 percent to 25 percent, according to early, unofficial returns reported by the Billings Gazette.
     The initiative also clarified that in Montana, money is not speech; it's property.
     The initiative was a rebuke to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, which unleashed corporate political donations. According to the Gazette's early returns, 224,679 Montanans voted for the measure, and 74, 361 opposed it.
     Montana voters also overwhelmingly approved initiatives that will require parental notification for minors to have abortions, deny government services to undocumented immigrants, and forbid local government from imposing health insurance mandates.
     A fifth Montana initiative, severely limiting the use and distribution and use of medical marijuana, appeared to be losing with about half the votes counted, the Gazette reported.
     Here is the text of Initiative 166, according to the StandWithMontanans.org website, which favored the initiative.
     BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
     NEW SECTION. Section 1. Short title. [Sections 1 through 4] may be cited as the "Prohibition on Corporate Contributions and Expenditures in Montana Elections Act."
     NEW SECTION. Section 2. Preamble. The people of the state of Montana find that:
     (1) since 1912, through passage of the Corrupt Practices Act by initiative, Montana has prohibited corporate contributions to and expenditures on candidate elections;
     (2) in 1996, by passage of Initiative No. 125, Montana prohibited corporations from using corporate funds to make contributions to or expenditures on ballot issue campaigns;
     (3) Montana's 1996 prohibition on corporate contributions to ballot issue campaigns was invalidated by Montana Chamber of Commerce v. Argenbright, 226 F.3d 1049 (2000). Montana's 1912 prohibition on corporate contributions to and expenditures on candidate elections is also being challenged under the holding of Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. _____, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010). This decision equated the political speech rights of corporations with those of human beings.
     (4) in 2011 the Montana Supreme Court, in its decision, Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General, 2011 MT 328, upheld Montana's 1912 prohibition on corporate contributions to and expenditures on candidate campaigns, stating in its opinion as follows:
     (a) examples of well-financed corruption involving corporate money abound in Montana;
     (b) the corporate power that can be exerted with unlimited corporate political spending is still a vital interest to the people of Montana;
     (c) corporate independent spending on Montana ballot issues has far exceeded spending from other sources;
     (d) unlimited corporate money into candidate elections would irrevocably change the dynamic of local Montana political office races;
     (e) with the infusion of unlimited corporate money in support of or opposition to a targeted candidate, the average citizen candidate in Montana would be unable to compete against the corporate-sponsored candidate, and Montana citizens, who for over 100 years have made their modest election contributions meaningfully count, would be effectively shut out of the process; and
     (f) clearly the impact of unlimited corporate donations creates a dominating impact on the Montana political process and inevitably minimizes the impact of individual Montana citizens.
     NEW SECTION. Section 3. Policy. (1) It is policy of the state of Montana that each elected and appointed official in Montana, whether acting on a state or federal level, advance the philosophy that corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights and that each such elected and appointed official is charged to act to prohibit, whenever possible, corporations from making contributions to or expenditures on the campaigns of candidates or ballot issues. As part of this policy, each such elected and appointed official in Montana is charged to promote actions that accomplish a level playing field in election spending.
     (2) When carrying out the policy under subsection (1), Montana's elected and appointed officials are generally directed as follows:
     (a) that the people of Montana regard money as property, not speech;
     (b) that the people of Montana regard the rights under the United States Constitution as rights of human beings, not rights of corporations;
     (c) that the people of Montana regard the immense aggregation of wealth that is accumulated by corporations using advantages provided by the government to be corrosive and distorting when used to advance the political interests of corporations;
     (d) that the people of Montana intend that there should be a level playing field in campaign spending that allows all individuals, regardless of wealth, to express their views to one another and their government; and
     (e) that the people of Montana intend that a level playing field in campaign spending includes limits on overall campaign expenditures and limits on large contributions to or expenditures for the benefit of any campaign by any source, including corporations, individuals, or political committees.
     NEW SECTION. Section 4. Promotion of policy by elected or appointed officials.
     (1) Montana's congressional delegation is charged with proposing a joint resolution offering an amendment to the United States constitution that accomplishes the following:
     (a) overturns the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission;
     (b) establishes that corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights;
     (c) establishes that campaign contributions or expenditures by corporations, whether to candidates or ballot issues, may be prohibited by a political body at any level of government; and
     (d) accomplishes the goals of Montanans in achieving a level playing field in election spending.
     (2) Montana's congressional delegation is charged to work diligently to bring such a joint resolution to a vote and passage, including use of discharge petitions, cloture, and every other procedural method to secure a vote and passage.
     (3) The members of the Montana legislature, if given the opportunity, are charged with ratifying any amendment to the United States constitution that is consistent with the policy of the state of Montana.
     NEW SECTION. Section 5. Saving clause. [This act] does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, or proceedings that were begun before [the effective date of this act.]
     NEW SECTION. Section 6. Severability. If a part of [this act] is invalid, all valid parts that are severable from the invalid part remain in effect. If a part of [this act] is invalid in one or more of its applications, the part remains in effect in all valid applications that are severable from the invalid applications.
     NEW SECTION. Section 7. Effective date. [This act] is effective upon approval by the electorate.
     NEW SECTION. Section 8. Codification instruction. Sections [1 through 4] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 13 and the provisions of Title 13 apply to sections [1 through 4].