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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

State Can’t Contradict ‘Citizens United’ So Easy

(CN) - As election season nears, Montana cannot ban corporate funding of political messages until groups challenging the law appeal the case in Washington, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.

The Montana Supreme Court upheld the law on Dec. 30, 2011, reversing the decision of the trial court.

When the nation's high court stayed that decision Friday, American Tradition Partnership applauded the development as a "a win for everyone's First Amendment rights."

American Tradition Partnership filed suit over the Montana law in September alongside the Montana Right to Life Association PAC and two Montana counties' Republican Central Committees.

"The United States Constitution protects Americans' God-given right to associate and speak freely, even if we choose to do that under the corporate structure," according to a statement on American Tradition's website. "Stripping people of their right to engage in political speech because you do not like the identity of the speaker is an assault on this republic's founding principles. The law and the Constitution are on our side and we expect to win yet again when this matter is considered by U.S. Supreme Court."

American Tradition says it is fighting "the corrupt and lawless political machine in Helena, as well as the anti-jobs radicals at the Sierra Club who want to kill pipelines and progress itself."

Accompanying the high court's order to grant the stay, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a brief statement joined by Justice Stephen Breyer.

"Montana's experience, and experience elsewhere since this court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commision make it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations 'do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,'" Ginsburg wrote. "A petition for certiorari will give the court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates' allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway. Because lower courts are bound to follow this court's decisions until they are withdrawn or modified, however, I vote to grant the stay."

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