Today the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear a challenge to Montana’s political contribution limits in a case that Free Speech For People has been working on since 2014.
The history of the Lair case dates back to September 2011. The plaintiffs alleged that Montana’s campaign contribution limits are unconstitutionally low and violate the First Amendment.
The case went back and forth between the federal district court in Montana and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Free Speech For People filed three amicus briefs along the way, joined by our partners the Honorable James Nelson, a retired Justice of the Montana Supreme Court; the American Independent Business Alliance; the American Sustainable Business Council; and the Indian Law Center. We particularly emphasized that the Ninth Circuit itself had found that the state had violated the Voting Rights Act with respect to Montana’s Native American population, and those findings specifically noted that Native American poverty impeded their ability to fully participate in the political process. As we noted, Montana’s contribution limits helped minimize this effect.
On October 23, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld Montana’s campaign contribution limits. The court focused on the contribution limits’ role in preventing corruption. Today, the Supreme Court declined to review that decision. The plaintiffs have no further appeals.
This is a victory not only for the people and democracy of Montana, but also for much of the western United States (which is within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit) and, ultimately, the entire country.
For more background information on the Lair case, our amicus briefs, and today’s decision, visit our Lair case page.
Photo credit: SupremeCourt.gov