By Mike Sacks
WASHINGTON — The Montana Supreme Court has put itself on a collision course with the U.S. Supreme Court by upholding a century-old state law that bans corporate spending in state and local political campaigns.
The law, which was passed by Montana voters in 1912 to combat Gilded Age corporate control over much of Montana’s government, states that a “corporation may not make … an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political party that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.” In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its landmark Citizens United v. Federal Election Commissiondecision, struck down a similar federal statute, holding that independent electoral spending by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption” that such laws were enacted to combat.
That reasoning — described by the Citizens United dissenters as a “crabbed view of corruption” — compelled 23 of the 24 states with independent spending bans to stop enforcing their restrictions, according to Edwin Bender, executive director of the Helena, Mont.-based National Institute on Money in State Politics. Montana, however, stood by its 1912 law, … Read More