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.