US Supreme Court Must Carefully Consider Montana’s Corporate Campaign Spending Ban

Groups Urge Justice Kennedy to Deny Request for Injunction

The US Supreme Court should reject pleas that it toss aside Montana’s law banning corporate campaign spending, two reform organizations said today.

Common Cause and Free Speech for People urged the justices to let the century-old Montana statute stand while the nation’s highest court reviews a Montana Supreme Court decision last month upholding the ban. In its ruling, the state supreme court distinguished Montana’s Corrupt Practices Act, passed in 1912, from the federal corporate campaign spending ban at issue in the US Supreme Court’s January 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision.

“In Montana, we believe in honesty and having a fair say; the people of Montana deserve the right to their day in court on the full merits of our 100-year-old law that has protected us from the corrupting influence of corporate money,” said C.B. Pearson, a board member of Common Cause Montana.

Last Thursday, American Tradition Partnership (ATP), a corporation which is challenging the Montana law, filed an application before the US Supreme Court requesting an immediate injunction preventing the state Supreme Court ruling from going into effect. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has given the State of Montana until 5 pm ET today to respond to ATP’s application.

“Montana’s highest court carefully studied state laws and precedents and concluded that corporate political spending can be regulated without endangering free speech,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “The Supreme Court should let that ruling stand, but if the Justices do want to address this case, they should not rush to judgment on that finding, but instead should take the time to carefully weigh the state decision.”

“The US Supreme Court should let the State of Montana be heard on this matter of critical importance to the integrity of its elections,” said John Bonifaz, co-founder and executive director of Free Speech For People. “The Montana Supreme Court considered a century of experience with the state’s Corrupt Practices Act. Montana deserves that same careful consideration from the US Supreme Court.”

Click here to download the press release.