State of Elections

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Tag: corporate spending

Supreme Court strikes down corporate spending ban

by Patrick Genova

Late last month the Supreme Court struck down Montana’s ban on corporate spending in elections. Montana was the first of many states to push back against the implications of Citizens United. In February the Montana Supreme Court upheld the ban saying that Montana had a rich history against corporate spending that rises to the level of a “compelling interest”, forcing the Supreme Court to take another look at its holding in Citizens United on appeal.

On the same day the Court ruled on the Affordable Care Act they also struck down Montana’s century old law banning corporate spending. The Court reiterated that corporate campaign donations are no different than contributions by any other citizen. Obama spokesman Eric Schultz said of the opinion, “Citizens United mistakenly overruled longstanding cases that protected the fairness and integrity of elections.” But Despite the mounting criticism the Court stands the same as in 2010 with the same five justices voting against the ban. James Bopp Jr., the attorney pushing for unlimited corporate spending, called the decision, “excellent”.

In deciding against Montana’s ban the Supreme Court has effectively shut down challenges that have sprung up since the Citizens United decision. But what will it mean for the future of Montana’s elections? For now it seems that corporate politics will begin to play a large role, whether its for good or bad. This does not mean that the fight against corporate spending is over. Governor Scweitzer said in response to the decision, “We’re going to overrule the Supreme Court with a constitutional amendment, to make it clear that we the people are in charge of America, not we the corporations. Here in Montana, we’re putting it on the ballot.” While the Court seems to be unwavering in their decision, the war against corporate spending is far from over.


Montana rebels against Citizens United

Patrick Genova

in-depth article

It may be surprising that the biggest blow to corporations in 2011 didn’t come from Wall Street protestors. Late last month Montana’s Supreme Court took a swing at corporate spending in elections holding, in spite of the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee, that a 100-year-old law banning corporate spending was valid. In doing so, the court held that the lower court’s reading of Citizens United was erroneous. The Court in Citizens United said, “Laws burdening such speech are subject to strict scrutiny, which requires the Government to prove that the restriction ‘furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.’”

So what exactly should be considered a “compelling interest” for bans on political spending? The Supreme Court of Montana answers bluntly that they have met the standard of review set out in Citizens United. In assessing Chief Justice McGrath explains Montana’s long standing fight against corporate spending. Continue reading

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