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Montana Supreme Court Upholds State Law Banning Corporations from Spending Money on Campaign Messages about Candidates

Published on December 30, 2011, by in General.

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.

11 Responses

  1. rosa

    Wow! What a ripping good read that opinion is!

  2. ACP

    Montana leads the way again!

  3. Allen

    So this means that if the Montana Republicans and Democrats are organized as Corporations they can’t support their own candidates for office by spending members money on support media (ads)?

  4. Demo Rep

    Will Obama declare that MT is in a state of rebellion against the Constitution and laws of the U.S.A. ??? — and call out the armed forces and Militia of the U.S.A. to arrest the rebels ??? Stay tuned.

    NO limit on the New Age powermadness in high places.

    Corps – See Blackstone’s Commentaries Book I — too difficult for SCOTUS MORONS to detect.

  5. Natural Born Citizen Party

    So this must be why the Natural Born Citizen Party national committee should consider holding its 2012 US Presidential Candidate Eligibility Convention in Montana — rather than say DC, Georgia, New York or California

  6. Majestic One

    Freedom of speech is about freedom from government actions and not freedom to say whatever one wishes. Speech has always been restricted and all state constitutions reserves the right to define the abuse.

    See:

    http://www.federalistblog.us/2008/10/freedom_of_speech_and_of_the_press/

  7. Baronscarpia

    No surprise that you devote most of your post to the dissent, Richard. The decision must be deeply offensive to your view that corporate persons have the right to purchase as much free speech as they need to acquire their own, personal legislators.

    These kinds of brush fires will continue until we finally amend the constitution to declare the US a fascist state.

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  11. Demo Rep

    Can ALL individual human persons now incorporate and become corporations ???

    The obvious const amdt (due to the MORON SCOTUS folks – a fictional govt corporation group) —

    Artificial fictional invisable persons [corporations, partnerships, etc.] shall only have such rights, privileges and immunities which may be provided by the laws of the United States and the several States — due to the MORON opinion in SCOTUS in the CU case.

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