February 10, 2012 •
A Montana Supreme Court’s decision upholding the state’s law prohibiting independent political expenditures by a corporation related to a candidate, in spite of Citizens United v. FEC, has been appealed to the US Supreme Court.
According to the SCOTUSblog, Justice Kennedy has called for a response from the state of Montana by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 15.
For a detailed explanation of the appeal, see Lyle Denniston’s article on SCOTUSblog at http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/02/new-citizens-united-sequel-2.
In December of last year, the Montana Supreme Court found Citizens United v. FEC did not compel invalidating the state’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act.
In the Court’s majority opinion in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of the State of Montana, the Court wrote, “The corporate power that can be exerted with unlimited political spending is still a vital interest to the people of Montana.”
The Court concluded the state, because of its history and the history of the Act, has a compelling interest to impose statutory restrictions, emphasizing the Citizens United decision allows restrictions to be upheld if the government demonstrates a sufficiently strong interest.
In making its argument, the decision asserts that a “material factual distinction between the present case and Citizens United is the extent of the regulatory burden imposed by the challenged law.” The Court found in contrast to the “complexity and ambiguity” of restrictions for federal PACs, PACs formed and maintained in the state are “easily implemented” by the filing of “simple and straight-forward forms or reports.”
Attorney James Bopp, Jr., counsel of record for the petitioner, argues for the US Supreme Court to summarily reverse the Montana decision, writing, “The lower court’s refusal to follow Citizens United is such an obvious, blatant disregard of its duty to follow this Court’s decisions that summary reversal is proper.”
October 10, 2011 •
Suit Seeks Political Party Contribution Limits
The New Mexico Republican Party, represented by attorney James Bopp, Jr., has filed a lawsuit challenging New Mexico’s campaign finance law. The suit asks the federal district court in Albuquerque to declare unconstitutional part of a state law which sets a contribution limit of $5,000 to or by political parties. The law was passed in 2009, but did not become effective until after the 2010 election.
The lawsuit also contends that federal election law precludes New Mexico from restricting how much money a national political party can give to a state party organization for election work, such as registering voters and encouraging voter turnout.
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