HELENA—The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision released Monday, summarily reversed a Montana Supreme Court decision and decided that the state’s century-old ban on corporate spending for or against political candidates is unconstitutional.
SCOTUSblog reported the decision shortly after 8 a.m. MDT.
A summarily reversal means that the state Supreme Court decision was overturned without the nation’s highest court scheduling any briefing or oral argument on the legal controversy.
It was a clear victory for American Tradition Partnership, the conservative group from Washington, D.C. The group had argued Montana’s 1912 law was unconstitutional under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which granted free speech to corporations and unions.
Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock had been trying to carve out an exception to the 2010 precedent. He said the Montana law was passed as an initiative by voters in response to corporate corruption and domination of the state’s political system by the Copper Kings in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
That ends for now the state’s battle to preserve the 1912 law, although there are efforts to push for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to declare the corporations aren’t human being entitled to free speech.