Montana Stands Up To The Supreme Court

Posted by | January 7, 2012 09:43 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

I’ve never been to Montana but it is quite high on the list of states I would like to visit.  Perhaps if I do, I will stop by the state Supreme Court which this week essentially refused to obey the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  Dahlia Lithwick explains:

The Montana court more or less announced it would uphold that state’s corporate spending ban because they know a lot more about political corruption than Anthony Kennedy does. The Montana law was enacted in 1912 and provides that “a corporation may not make a contribution or an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.” After the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision in 2010, many similar state laws were struck down by the courts or repealed, and a lower court in Montana agreed that the Montana ban was unconstitutional as well, finding that “Citizens United is unequivocal: the government may not prohibit independent and indirect corporate expenditures on political speech.” But by a 5-2 margin, Montana’s high court determined that the state law survived “strict scrutiny” because Montana’s unique context and history justified the ban in ways not contemplated by Citizens United.

The Supreme Court will almost undoubtedly overturn Montana’s decision (but twist themselves into knots explaining why states rights do not prevail in this case), but kudos to Montana for firing a shot at a wildly unpopular decision.

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Copyright 2012 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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