Supreme Court

Supreme Court Summarily Reverses Montana's Blatant Violation of Citizens United


In December 2011 the Montana Supreme Court voted to upheld the state's 99-year-old ban on corporate spending in political campaigns. Writing in dissent, Montana Justice James C. Nelson chastised his colleagues for blatantly ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which struck down a nearly identical federal law banning political spending by corporations and unions. As Nelson wrote:

Montana is in the same First Amendment swimming pool as every other state, and the Supreme Court has dictated that its waters are expansive and deep when it comes to corporate political speech. Citizens United is the law of the land, and this Court is duty-bound to follow it. When this case is appealed to the Supreme Court, as I expect it will be, a summary reversal on the merits would not surprise me in the least.

Nelson hit the nail on the head. Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the Montana decision to its doom with a summary reversal. As the Supreme Court declared:

The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does.  See U. S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2.  Montana's arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case….The judgment of the Supreme Court of Montana is reversed.

For more on the case, see my recent column "Montana's Misguided Attempt to Nullify Citizens United."