Supreme Court bolsters Citizens United decision by smacking down Montana

posted at 1:21 pm on June 25, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

So, no ObamaCare until Thursday, and the SB 1070 ruling is going to instigate some interesting fallout, but the Supreme Court did issue at least one ruling today that had me smiling.

In 2010, the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United v. FEC decision prescribed that corporations, like individuals, are entitled to free speech — and by extension, can spend mucho dinero in support of or opposition to political candidates in federal elections. The highly controversial 5-4 decision split down the conservative-liberal line, and many liberals were positively outraged with corporations’ confirmed newfound spending capabilities. President Obama was no fan of the decision, and plenty of people have pointed to the ruling as a huge factor in the outcome of the November 2010 elections.

Today, the Supreme Court essentially doubled down on that decision by ruling that the state of Montana may not use state laws to subvert the Citizens United case.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday followed up on its 2010 ruling that unleashed corporate spending in federal elections, reversing a decision that upheld a century-old Montana law restricting business political campaign expenditures.

By a 5-4 vote, the high court ruled for three corporations – a political advocacy group called American Tradition Partnership Inc, a nonprofit that promotes shooting sports and a small family-owned painting business – that challenged the law for violating their free-speech rights. …

The Montana Supreme Court upheld the state law, ruling the 2010 decision did not control the outcome because Montana’s law was different and justified by the state’s interest in preventing corporate corruption and influence in politics. …

James Bopp, lead attorney for the corporations, said when he filed the appeal, “If Montana can ban core political speech because of Montana’s unique characteristics, free speech will be seriously harmed. Speakers will be silenced because of corruption by others over a century ago.”

Once again, the liberal justices were less than pleased with the outcome — back in February, Justice Ginsburg urged that the Montana case should be a chance to revisit the Citizens United decision, but nothing doing. Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan were in agreement with Breyer’s dissenting opinion:

…[E]ven if I were to accept Citizens United, this Court’s legal conclusion should not bar the Montana Supreme Court’s finding, made on the record before it, that independent expenditures by corporations did in fact lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption in Montana. Given the history and political landscape in Montana, that court concluded that the State had a compelling interest in limiting independent expenditures by corporations. …

Were the matter up to me, I would vote to grant the petition for certiorari in order to reconsider Citizens United or, at least, its application in this case.

Indeed, nothing frustrates liberals like groups of hardworking, wealthy, like-minded people having the ability to influence politics… when it doesn’t benefit them. Jim Geraghty has an apt example of liberals’ outrageous outrage over the decision:

Hollywood director Judd Apatow, who donated $30,800 to the DNC in September and $63,000 to President Obama, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and other Democrats since 2008, responds to today’s Supreme Court ruling striking down state-level restrictions upon political donations by declaring, “Supreme Court Reversed Anti-Citizens United Ruling From Montana – aaaaagg!! More money in politics!!!”

Mm hmm.


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