Supreme Court vetoes state campaign finance law - WFSB 3 Connecticut

SCOTUS: Court won't reconsider Citizens United

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The Supreme Court Justices pose for a picture in 2010. (Source: Steve Petteway/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/The Oyez Project) The Supreme Court Justices pose for a picture in 2010. (Source: Steve Petteway/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/The Oyez Project)

WASHINGTON (RNN) - The U.S. Supreme Court voted to strike down a 100-year-old Montana law which banned companies from contributing to political campaigns.

Monday's split decision reaffirmed the court's infamous 2010 decision in the Citizens United case, which overturned a federal ban on corporate spending for political candidates.

Since that decision, corporate spending on elections has skyrocketed, leading to accusations of companies throwing in enough money to heavily influence outcomes.

The court's majority opinion was unsigned and brief.

"The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law," the opinion said. "There can be no serious doubt that it does.

"Montana's arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case."

Justices decided 5 to 4 to overturn the Montana Supreme Court decision without arguments.

Traditionally, it takes just four justices to force the court to hear a case.

However, dissenting justices wrote they didn't "see a significant possibility of reconsideration," with the majority of the court's stance on Citizens United, given the brief opinion smacking down the Montana law.

In a dissenting opinion penned by Justice Stephen Breyer, the minority agreed with the Montana Supreme Court that the state's history with corruption meant Citizens United was moot in their elections.

"Montana's experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the court's decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubt on the court's supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so," he wrote.

The court's decision to uphold its decision in Citizens United makes it unlikely the campaign finance law will be reviewed or challenged again in the near future.

Montana's voter-approved Corrupt Practices Act of 1912 said that corporations could spend money on ballot measures, not on specific political candidates.

The Montana Supreme Court had supported the state's 1912 campaign finance law on the basis that Montana had a history of corrupt corporate influence in politics. The state's history was considered especially relevant because the case dealt with state elections, not federal.

The Montana court had ruled the Citizens United decision applied only to federal elections.

In the Citizens United case, the court said "political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation."

The decision overturned a federal ban, which kept corporations from donating to political candidates. It upheld a federal law that said corporate donors have to be named so voters are aware of who is trying to influence politics.

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