Montana Supreme Court Ignores Citizens United. Will the U.S. Supreme Court Set It Straight?


Last December the Montana Supreme Court decided to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. F.E.C. and instead allow Montana's 99-year-old ban on corporate spending in political campaigns to remain on the books. It's not everyday that you see a state court dodging applicable Supreme Court precedent with such gusto, so it comes as no surprise that the losing side in that decision has now asked the Supreme Court to step in and set things straight. As Lyle Denniston reports at SCOTUSblog:

The application and motion were filed with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is the Circuit Justice for the part of the country that includes Montana — the Ninth Circuit.  It will be up to Kennedy to decide whether to act alone on the controversy, or to share it with his eight colleagues.

The Montana law at issue — the Corrupt Practices Act enacted by the states' voters in 1912 — was interpreted by the state court as a flat ban on independent spending of corporations' internal funds to support or oppose specific candidates for state office (independnet in the sense that the financial effort was not coordinated with a candidate).  The measure thus was nearly identical to the ban in federal law that was struck down by the Citizens United ruling….

In suggesting that the full Court reach out and overturn the state decision without delay, the new filing argued that the state court's "refusal to follow Citizens United" is such an obvious, blatant disregard of its duty to follow this Court's decision that summary reversal is proper."

Read the whole story here. Read Reason on Citizens United here.