New York Times


February 14, 2012

When the Montana Supreme Court upheld the state’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act in December, the majority opinion described the lead plaintiff challenging the law, Western Tradition Partnership, as “a conduit of funds for persons and entities including corporations who want to spend money anonymously to influence Montana elections.” In upholding the law, the court ruled that the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which struck down bans on campaign spending by corporations and unions, did not apply because the Montana law was tailored to meet a compelling state interest and any burden on speech was minimal.

The plaintiff, renamed American Tradition Partnership, has now asked the United States Supreme Court to summarily overturn the Montana ruling or, alternatively, to stay the ruling. It contends the state court decision is an “outright refusal of the majority to follow Citizens United.” Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the Citizens United opinion and also decides requests for stays from Montana as part of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, should deny the application to overturn the Montana ruling. He should also deny a stay, which would have the practical effect of an injunction against the anticorruption law, preventing it from being in force in Montana elections this year.

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