In 2012 the People of Montana, by a supermajority, adopted CI-166, (codified as §§ 13-35-501-504), which requires this state’s congressional delegation to support the adoption of a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous 2010 decision in Citizens United and to restrict our constitutional rights to natural human beings.
Only one member of Montana’s congressional delegation, Senator Jon Tester, has complied with this law. Indeed, Sen. Tester was one of the first members of Congress to introduce a proposed constitutional amendment, to undo the corruptive effects of dark money in politics ushered in by Citizens United and the decision’s gift of unlimited political free speech to wealthy individuals, corporations and powerful institutions, and its devaluation of the voices and votes of ordinary human citizens.
But, Sen. Tester’s proactive representation of the supermajority of Montanans who are against Citizens United and Montana law came at a price.
Dark money organizations funded by the super wealthy—e.g. the Koch Brothers and those who profess that soulless corporations have the same fundamental rights as natural human beings — launched a multimillion dollar campaign to pressure, among others, Sen. Tester, to cast an affirmative vote for Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
But Sen. Tester was not intimidated by these enemies of democracy. Sen. Tester announced his decision to vote against Judge Gorsuch, because of the nominee’s judicial record supporting giving corporations even more political power than even Citizens United allowed, his record giving some corporations the right to practice religion, and his abysmal record on women’s rights issues.
Montanans owe Sen. Tester a thank you for his courageous vote to uphold Montana law and his refusal to be intimidated by the people and organizations that Montanans have made clear do not represent our values.
James C. Nelson of Helena is a retired Montana Supreme Court justice.