January 3, 2012 •
The Montana Supreme Court has held the state law prohibiting independent political expenditures by a corporation related to a candidate is constitutional.
Finding Citizens United v. FEC did not compel invalidating the state’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, the majority opinion of the Montana Supreme Court in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of the State of Montana states, “The corporate power that can be exerted with unlimited political spending is still a vital interest to the people of Montana.”
The Court concludes 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.”
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