The bitch slap heard across Corporate America: Montana High Court Rebukes Citizens United

January 2, 2012

The Montana Supreme Court just sent a chill down Corporate America’s spine. The state’s high court restored the century-old ban on direct spending by corporations on political candidates or committees.

This stunning rebuke of  the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 that deemed corporations as people, which gave them constitutional rights to spend money on political campaigns is a win for democracy.

With Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney publicly stating that Corporations are people, perhaps he should take heed of this monumental ruling. This is clearly a sign of the times – the attorney General, Steve Bullock who defended the ban is now running for Governor.

Great Falls Tribune reports:

The corporation that brought the case and is also fighting accusations that it illegally gathers anonymous donations to fuel political attacks, said the state Supreme Court got it wrong. The group argues that the 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, passed as a citizen’s ballot initiative, unconstitutionally blocks political speech by corporations.

The lawsuit was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision from last year granting political speech rights to corporations. A lower court then ruled the state ban was unconstitutional in the wake of the high court’s decision.

But the Montana Supreme Court on Friday reversed the lower state court’s analysis and application of the Citizens United case.

The Montana Supreme Court said Montana has a “compelling interest” to uphold its rationally tailored campaign-finance laws that include a combination of restrictions and disclosure requirements.

A group seeking to undo the Citizens United decision lauded the Montana high court, with its co-founder saying it was a “huge victory for democracy.”

“With this ruling, the Montana Supreme Court now sets up the first test case for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its Citizens United decision, a decision which poses a direct and serious threat to our democracy,” John Bonifaz, of Free Speech For People, said in a statement.

The Montana court agreed with Bullock’s argument that past political corruption, led by the famed Butte “Copper Kings” that dominated state politics long ago, gives Montana a compelling interest in regulating corporate spending. They pointed out also that corporations can form voluntary political action committees — subject to disclosure requirements — as a way to remain politically active.

People are listening to the ire expressed by voters that bad corporate behavior cannot be rewarded — people vote; not corporations.

Republican Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer has been outspoken as to how money is influencing the election process and he’s been campaigning with integrity. It’s rather telling that Mitt ‘Corporations are People’ Romney is out front in the polls, with Roemer garnering little support.

“I have a $100 donation limit, and won’t accept any money from PACs or super PACs,” he says. “Big money comes with strings attached, and a president needs to be free to lead, free to stand up to corporations and special interests, and free to listen to groups like the Occupy movement.”

Image: LA Progressive

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  • ken

    Wow! All of those who posted comments make really good points. However, I think we have all missed the true evil that need change: “GREED”, by our Corps, politicians,bankers and probably a few of us. The 1% or the 99%, whatever side your on, you should be intelligent enough to see the problems in those percentages. I love this country but if we don’t get/demand drastic change and soon, all will be lost.

  • zevgoldman

    A state supreme court decision is meaningless if it runs counter to a U.S. Supreme court ruling on the same issue.l

  • Mac Kennon

    so you guys realize that corporations being considered a “person” in the legal sense is actually an amazing thing right? i’m not speaking in so much that they should be able to dump unlimited funds into political campaigns…that’s just unethical in my opinion. Corporations being ppl allows for investor liability to be limited to his or her investment, while at the same time allowing the government to tax the profits of corporations TWICE; once as income, and the second time as capital gains and or dividends. If corporations weren’t treated as “people” by the law, the government would lose out on revenues from capital gains and dividends, and the public investors would be personally liable for the company if it defaulted….

    Corporations being legally considered “people” is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself….its what we choose to do with this notion that is important; i say keep the good side of it and ditch the unlimited spending capabilities.

  • Robs

    I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one

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