U.S. Supreme Court Rules Corporations Can Make Independent Expenditures in Montana - State and Federal Communications

June 25, 2012  •  

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Corporations Can Make Independent Expenditures in Montana

court sealsThe U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated a portion of Montana law which prohibits corporations from making independent expenditures in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.

In Western Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, the Court quoted from its prior Citizens United v FEC ruling that “political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.”

Four of the nine Justices dissented. The dissenting opinion quoted from the dissent in Citizens United, arguing “independent expenditures can be corrupting in much the same way as direct contributions.”

The dissenting opinion also argued the Citizens United ruling should not bar the Montana Supreme Court’s finding “that independent expenditures by corporations did in fact lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption in Montana.”

The dissent continued, “Given the history and political landscape in Montana, [The Montana Supreme Court] concluded that the State had a compelling interest in limiting independent expenditures by corporations. Thus, Montana’s experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the Court’s decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubt on the Court’s supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so.”

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