Montana’s Supreme Court basically gave the U.S. Supreme Court the middle finger last Friday by refusing to cede to 2010′s ‘Citizens United’ decision. That ruling, most rational people can agree, went above and beyond to give corporations unlimited power when it said political donations qualify as free speech, thereby unleashing a torrent of private money onto the campaign landscape.
Rather than undoing their own 1912 Corrupt Practices Act banning such transactions for local elections, though, RawStory reports that the Montana Supreme Court intends on keeping their prohibitions in place.
“Issues of corporate influence, sparse population, dependence upon agriculture and extractive resource development, location as a transportation corridor, and low campaign costs make Montana especially vulnerable to continued efforts of corporate control to the detriment of democracy and the republican form of government,” Chief Justice Mike McGrath wrote in his opinion. “Clearly, Montana has unique and compelling interests to protect through preservation of this statute.”
Citizens United “does not compel a conclusion that Montana’s law prohibiting independent political expenditures by a corporation related to a candidate is unconstitutional.”
It’s unclear whether the organizations hoping to overturn the 1912 law — American Tradition Partnership, Champion Painting Inc., and the Montana Shooting Sports Association Inc. — will appeal the decision. They are, according to American Tradition Partnership, “reviewing our options.”
“We feel Montanans do not forfeit their freedoms of speech and association simply because they associate as a corporation,” their executive director insisted.
In the meantime, let’s have a round of applause for Montana’s judges: in addition to standing up for the little man, as the Supreme Court clearly has, Judge James Reynolds last year overturned GOP-led restrictions on medical marijuana. The Treasure State is living up to its name.