Damon Root on Montana's Attempt to Nullify Citizens United


Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana should have been an easy case for the Montana Supreme Court. At issue was the state's 99-year-old ban on corporate spending in political campaigns. Because the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down a nearly identical federal restriction on political spending by corporations and unions for violating the First Amendment in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Montana court was duty-bound to follow this precedent and nullify the state law. But instead the court voted to uphold it, arguing that "this case concerns Montana law, Montana elections and it arises from Montana history." Senior Editor Damon Root explains why this argument fails to measure up. Montana officials may not like it, Root writes, but they're still bound by the First Amendment.