Monday, June 18, 2012

Supreme Court to rule on corporate electioneering

Montana case could nullify Citizen United 

Washington – When a cluster of Montana political action committees sued for relief in district court, they challenged the Montana state law that precludes corporate fund raising in local and state elections.

The District Court held that under the terms of a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission, corporations are to be regarded the same as humans, their freedom freely to express themselves in political discussions as inviolate under the First Amendment as the same freedom allowed any person.

The State of Montana appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court, which held that Citizen United should not be applied in that state because of its small population. Allowing unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns would shift the emphasis from that of person to person campaigning to an exercise in who can raise the most money, something that would render “the average citizen candidate unable to compete against the corporate-sponsored candidate.”(click here for briefs, the opinion, and other details)

Under Montana election laws, individuals are limited to contributions of $160 or less in most elections, $310 in Supreme Court elections.

 The controlling opinion handed down in that state is that the application of the federal case in Citizen United would so severely limit the participation of individuals that it would “inevitably minimize(s) the impact of indiviual citizens.”

Predictably, wealthy political action committees and political titans nationwide have filed friend of the court briefs in the Supreme Court, those favoring an application of Citizen United outnumbering those who favor the Montana state law as paramount running a poor second.

The Court is expected to announce its decision today.

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