US Supreme Court Blocks Montana Law- Citizens United II?

UPDATE-   Check out this piece by Tom Goldstein on the Montana case from SCOTUSblog (thanks to Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog)

The Supreme Court of the United States has entered a stay of the Montana Supreme Court‘s determination that the century-old Montana Corrupt Practices Act was necessary to prevent corruption of state elections by corporate spending. In taking the action based on its decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court did not examine the substantial factual record in the Montana case or give the State a hearing. Nevertheless, the Court will decide whether to allow a petition for certiorari and may consider the case further.

In an extraordinary criticism of a case decided only two years ago, Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justice Breyer,  took the opportunity to call for a re-examination of Citizens United:

Montana’s experience, and experience elsewhere since this Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Comm’n, 558 U.S.  __ (2010), make it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Id., at __ (slip op., at 42. A petition for certiorari will give the Court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway.

The Montana Supreme Court had cited the state’s demonstration of corruption caused by corporate spending in elections, and the effect of Montana law in preventing that corruption, as a reason to distinguish the state’s law from the federal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act struck down in Citizens United.

Here’s the Supreme Court’s Order.

About Jeff Clements

Jeff Clements is co-founder and chair of the board of Free Speech for People, a national non-partisan campaign to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, challenge excessive corporate power, and strengthen American democracy and republican self-government. He co-founded Free Speech For People in 2010, after representing several public interest organizations with a Supreme Court amicus brief in the Citizens United case. Jeff has served as Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Public Protection Bureau in the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office. As Bureau Chief, he led more than 100 staff in the enforcement of environmental, healthcare, financial services, civil rights, antitrust and consumer protection laws. In private practice, Jeff has been a partner at Mintz Levin in Boston, and in his own firm. Jeff also has served in leadership capacities on numerous boards, including that of the Portland Water District, a public agency responsible for protecting and delivering safe drinking water and ensuring proper treatment of wastewater for 160,000 people; Friends of Casco Bay, an environmental organization he co-founded with others to protect and enhance stewardship of Maine’s Casco Bay; and The Waldorf School in Lexington, Massachusetts. In 2012, Jeff co-founded Whaleback Partners LLC, which provides cost-effective capital to farmers and businesses engaged in local, sustainable agriculture. Jeff graduated with distinction in History and Government from Colby College in 1984, and magna cum laude from the Cornell Law School in 1988. He lives in Concord, Massachusetts with his wife and three children. Jeff Clements Twitter: @ClementsJeff Email: jclements@freespeechforpeople.org
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