On December 30, the Montana Supreme Court upheld the state law that makes it illegal for corporations to spend money, disseminating messages supporting or attacking candidates for state office. See this story. The vote was 5-2. Here is the 80-page opinion. The majority opinion is 29 pages, and the dissents are 51 pages. The case is Western Tradition Partnership v Attorney General. The majority seems to acknowledge that its decision contradicts the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission, but justifies this divergence from precedent by arguing that Montana has its own special reasons to block corporate speech.
The dissent by Justice Beth Baker quotes from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s recent book, “Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View”. Breyer wrote about the importance to our system of government that lower courts, and the executive and legislative branches of the federal and state governments, accept U.S. Supreme Court opinions, even when they disagree with those opinions.. The dissent by Justice James C. Nelson, which follows the Baker dissent and which is considerably longer, contains an impassioned criticism of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, but says that it is the law of the land. Page 40 contains a very earthy remark by Justice Nelson, rebutting the idea that Montana is “entitled to a special ‘no peeing’ zone in the First Amendment swimming pool”. Thanks to Justin Levitt for the link to the decision.