Posted on January 3, 2012 (August 24, 2020) Democracy Amendments Share: Associated Press, Published: December 30 HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Supreme Court restored the state’s century-old ban on direct spending by corporations on political candidates or committees in a ruling Friday that interest groups say bucks a high profile U.S. Supreme Court decision granting political speech rights to corporations. The decision grants a big win to Attorney General Steve Bullock, who personally represented the state in defending its ban that came under fire after the “Citizens United” decision last year from the U.S. Supreme court. “The Citizen’s United decision dealt with federal laws and elections — like those contests for president and congress,” said Bullock, who is now running for governor. “But the vast majority of elections are held at the state or local level and this is the first case I am aware of that examines state laws and elections.” The corporation that brought the case, and is also fighting accusations that it illegally gathers anonymous donations to fuel political attacks, said the state Supreme Court got it wrong. The group argues that the 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, passed as a citizen’s ballot initiative, unconstitutionally blocks political speech by corporations. “We feel Montanans do not forfeit their freedoms of speech and association simply because they associate as a corporation,” said American Tradition Partnership executive director Donald Ferguson in a statement. “We are currently reviewing our legal options.” The lawsuit was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens’ United decision from last year granting political speech rights to corporations. A lower court then ruled the state ban was unconstitutional in the wake of the high court’s decision. But the Montana Supreme Court on Friday reversed the lower state court’s analysis and application of the Citizen United case. The Montana Supreme Court said Montana has a “compelling interest” to uphold its rationally tailored campaign finance laws that include a combination of restrictions and disclosure requirements. A group seeking to undo the Citizen United decision lauded the Montana high court, with its co-founder saying it was a “huge victory for democracy.” “With this ruling, the Montana Supreme Court now sets up the first test case for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its Citizens United decision, a decision which poses a direct and serious threat to our democracy,” John Bonifaz, of Free Speech For People, said in a statement.