U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Montana Law that Bans Corporate Spending in Elections

On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court summarily struck down Montana’s law that makes it illegal for corporations to make independent expenditures for or against candidates for state and local office. The case is American Tradition Partnership v Bullock, 11-1179. Here is the very brief opinion. The vote was 5-4.

On December 30, 2011, the Montana Supreme Court had voted to uphold the Montana law by a vote of 5-2. The Montana Supreme Court decision seemed to defy the U.S. Supreme Court 2010 decision in Citizens United v FEC. That is why the U.S. Supreme Court majority felt there was no need to set the case for oral argument and full briefing. The 4-person minority on the U.S. Supreme Court would have simply refused to hear the Montana case, which would have left the Montana law in place.

8 comments

  1. Demo Rep · · Reply

    For folks with some operating brain cells –

    See Blackstone’s Commentaries Book I, Chap. 18 *Of Corporations* — going WAY back – to the Roman regimes.

    Too many EVIL brain dead SCOTUS robot party hack morons to count.

  2. STATE OF VERMONT GETS IN THE WAY OF
    CANDIDATE, Cris Ericson, WHO WOULD LIKE TO BE
    PROMOTED BY SUPER PACs!

    JUNE 22, 2012 COMPLAINT TO THE F.B.I.
    BY CRIS ERICSON, political candidate in Vermont running against
    incumbent Bernie Sander for United States Senator
    and also running against incumbent Peter Shumlin for Governor of VT.

    To: jim.condos@sec.state.vt.us [jim.condos@sec.state.vt.us];
    kscheele@sec.state.vt.us [kscheele@sec.state.vt.us]; will.senning@sec.state.vt.us
    [will.senning@sec.state.vt.us]

    Cc: ny1@ic.fbi.gov [ny1@ic.fbi.gov]; washington.field@ic.fbi.gov
    [washington.field@ic.fbi.gov]; GovernorVT@state.vt.us [GovernorVT@state.vt.us]

    Subject: is any “public record” also a state record? 18 USC section 2075

    To: F.B.I., Jim Condos,Kathy Scheele, Will Senning, Governor Peter Shumlin:

    Question of whether federal law applies to state records?

    HOW CAN THE U.S. MARIJUANA PARTY
    CANDIDATE, Cris Ericson,
    PROVE that she has a legal
    right to ask for and accept out-of-state campaign
    donations, or to be promoted by SuperPACs,
    while the Elections Division is still refusing
    to list the independent and minor party
    candidates?

    Isn’t this fraudulent concealment,
    compounded day after day,
    of material facts, affecting the potential interstate
    “commerce” of campaign fundraising which
    can create seasonal employment
    and an influx of advertising dollars
    in Vermont?

    Is “any public record” also a state record,
    under 18 USC Section 101 Records & Reports;
    18 USC Section 1701 Concealment;
    18 USC 2075 Officers failing to make reports –
    considering that
    Cris Ericson is a candidate for Governor and
    for United States Senator?

    The Vermont Statutes Online
    Title 1: General Provisions
    Chapter 5: COMMON LAW; GENERAL RIGHTS
    1 V.S.A. § 315. Statement of policy
    … free and open examination of records
    consistent with Chapter I, Article 6
    of the Vermont Constitution.

    Is VT Secretary of State,
    Jim Condos, violating the Spirit of the Law,
    because Cris Ericson filed her candidate petitions
    May 29, 2012 and received a telephone call from
    the Elections Division July 1 stating her petitions
    were verified, (but no letter in the mail)
    but his office is threatening
    to withhold this information until the “week of
    July 1” which could actually be over 30 days,
    and inconsistent with “open records”?

    Cris Ericson campaign: http://usmjp.com

    VERMONT SECRETARY OF STATE – Jim Condos – Democrat

    Elections Division
    Vermont Secretary of State
    128 State Street
    Montpelier, VT 05633-1101
    In-State: (800) 439-8683
    Outside VT: (802) 828-2464
    FAX: 802-828-5171
    HOURS: 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    http://www.sec.state.vt.us
    Welcome to the Secretary of State’s Elections and Campaign Finance
    Division web pages. Please see our disclaimer below.

    DRAFT CANDIDATE LIST for August 28 Primary

    DRAFT CANDIDATE LIST for August 28 Primary PDF

    Parties, Candidates, and interested citizens: Please Review the Candidate
    List above and email the Elections Division if you find any errors or
    omissions.

    The printing deadline is Tuesday at 5:00 p.m.

    Independent and Minor Party Candidate List for the November 6 General
    Election will be posted on or before the week of July 1.

    Contact Kathy Scheele
    (formerly DeWolfe),
    Director of Elections and Campaign Finance
    at kscheele@sec.state.vt.us
    or (802) 828-2304

    Contact Will at will.senning@sec.state.vt.us or (802) 828-0175 for
    Municipal Elections, Lobbyist, Campaign Finance and Candidate/Parties
    questions.

    Contact Lori at lori.bjornlund@sec.state.vt.us or (802) 828-2464 for
    Candidates/Parties, Voter Registration, Justice of the Peace questions and
    for copies of Publications.

    Contact Elizabeth at liz.harrington@sec.state.vt.us or (802) 828-0771 for
    Lobbyist and Campaign Finance questions.

    Contact Lelonie at lelonie.adams@sec.state.vt.us or (802) 828-1931 for
    Statewide Checklist, Motor Voter Information, Military/Overseas and Voter
    Registration questions.

  3. Bronscarpia · · Reply

    Whew! At least now the corporate “persons” living ion Montana won’t need to move to another state to purcha…er…, “exercise” their “free” speech. Even though we’re on summer break, it would be a real disruption in the lives of corporate “children” to have to enter new schools in the fall, don’t you think, Richard?

  4. Baronscarpia · · Reply

    Say Richard – have you give any more thought to my question about whether a law that prohibits the sale of heroin is an abridgement of free speech?

    Asked eight times with no answer….and counting…

  5. Richard Winger · · Reply

    #4, if you will find for me the exact language of any federal or state law about the sale of heroin, then I can answer your question. I don’t know enough about drug laws to answer; I need to see exactly what is illegal in connection with heroin transactions.

    The Prohibition amendment to the U.S. Constitution didn’t prohibit possession of beverage alcohol; it just banned the manufacture, transportation and sale. For all I know that is true of laws against heroin as well.

  6. Baronscarpia · · Reply

    6 –

    Let’s use a simple hypothetical law for sake of discussion. The law states “If we catch you selling heroin, in any quantity, to any person or persons, for whatever purpose, we will try you and if convicted you will serve a minimum of one year in a federal penitentiary.”

    So…would that law be a violation of one’s first amendment rights to free speech?

  7. Richard Winger · · Reply

    “Selling” is both speech and action, so, no, I don’t think a law like that violates the First Amendment. If the law said only that it is illegal to ask someone to buy heroin, I think that law would violate the First Amendment.

  8. Thank you for posting this Richard.

    In short, Montana’s law defied the Constitution’s “supremacy clause,” which states that lower court judges, both state and federal, are bound by Supreme Court decisions.

    The Montana Supreme Court defied the Constitution in ruling that it could deny Montanans free speech simply because their form of association was a corporation. That defied the supremacy clause, the Citizens United ruling and the First Amendment’s protections of free speech and free association. The violation was so blatant the Court did not need to even schedule a hearing.

    Donny Ferguson
    Executive Director
    American Tradition Partnership
    (former Director of Communications, Libertarian National Committee)

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