Circ activation contest

U.S. Supreme Court strikes 1912 state ban on corporate donations

2012-06-25T08:29:00Z 2012-06-29T08:02:25Z U.S. Supreme Court strikes 1912 state ban on corporate donationsBy CHARLES S. JOHNSON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record

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.



Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(12) Comments

  1. enu_22
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    enu_22 - June 29, 2012 7:41 am
    "U.S. Supreme Court strikes 1912 state ban on corporate donatiions".
    This headline should read, "U.S. Supreme Court strikes 1912 state ban on corporate donations". Spell check does work when used.
  2. FlamingLiberal
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    FlamingLiberal - June 26, 2012 2:14 pm
    This same Supreme Court overruled and disenfranchised over 150 million voters who cast their votes for Al Gore, and appointed George W. Bush with a 5 to 4 vote. This same court has eroded many, many liberties, and they have no accountability because they are appointed for life. They gave us Citizens United, overturned our 100-year-old anti-corruption law, and are poised to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, all by a 5 to 4 vote.

    Anyone who thinks there is no difference between the Democrats and Republicans needs to re-think that position carefully when casting ballots this November. Would you rather have Obama or Romney selecting the next few people to sit on that court and consider your rights? Look what "Conservatism" has brought us.
  3. Riamh
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    Riamh - June 25, 2012 11:15 pm
    JVH77 said: "Why do we have voter passed initiatives again?"

    Great point. These last few years "conservatives" have repealed several voter passed initiatives. Our initiative process no longer has any meaning. Liberty is now dead.
  4. LeslieEss
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    LeslieEss - June 25, 2012 12:51 pm
    The Supreme Court follows and interprets the law. If we don't like the law the Court is interpreting, change that law. Frankly, considering how corporations have been behaving lately, I wouldn't be surprised at the success of such an attempt at change if it's put to the people (and I mean literal people).
  5. Reader14
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    Reader14 - June 25, 2012 12:43 pm
    I consider myself an independent voter and have voted for candidates for both parties in the past. As a middle class taxpayer, I normally lean toward the conservative side.

    To have the liberals support the ban and the conservatives oppose it shocks me as it is usually the Dems that want to throw tax payer money away and invade all areas of my private life and the Reps that want less spending, lower taxes, less government interference.

    So now I'm left with no candidate to support. Guess it's time to vote for the Libertarian, Independent, or a write in (like Elmer Fudd). A friend said I will be throwing my vote away, but maybe it's time to break the 2-party system. If enough people feel the same, maybe it will work.

    I'm incensed at the ruling, disappointed at the erosion of the will of the people, and sick at heart for the future of this country.
  6. Carole
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    Carole - June 25, 2012 11:39 am
    "Montana acquired a nauseating reputation during the Clark-Amalgamated-Heinze imbroglio and it has no stomach for a repetition of these scenes." Livingston Daily Post (July 1910)

    "No stream can rise higher than its source and the law proceeds from the people, consequently there is no such thing as law that stands independent of popular opinion, and for the legislatures and courts to...divorce the law from reason,...would be fatal to the law and destructive to the country."  Billings Daily Gazette (April 1910)

    For more from the editors who ended Corrupt Practices in Montana elections in 1912, go to
  7. longtimereaderfirsttimecommenter
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    longtimereaderfirsttimecommenter - June 25, 2012 11:22 am
    This case (and Citizens United) had to do with corporate SPENDING, not donations. The headline is factually incorrect.
  8. FlamingLiberal
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    FlamingLiberal - June 25, 2012 10:37 am
    How lovely that a partisan court can AGAIN overturn more than a century of established law by a 5-4 vote. Welcome to the oligarchy.
  9. JVH77
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    JVH77 - June 25, 2012 10:23 am
    Why do we have voter passed initiatives again?
  10. skooter
    Report Abuse
    skooter - June 25, 2012 9:53 am
    Disgusting...just know that great cheer from the republican right and their leadership is about being able to buy elections for those they serve...and that's not you or us. If they wanted your wishes honored and legislation created that served people then they too would have fought this...people are people NOT corporations. Just look at the party lines on the decision and support.

    And to all of the troglodytes who will claim this is a union thing and designed to allow big business to compete with unions. Unions have never poured more than a fraction of what companies spend into any election before this ruling and the same will be said afterwards. Unions have a fraction of the power and war chests that corporate America has available to them...and this supreme court just gave them the green light to pay to have laws made that work for them even if they don't work for you.

    And let's summarize...they loaded the supreme court with conservatives, they opened the flood gates, and now no matter what the cause, just know that some business can shout down the word of the people if they are willing to spend the big buck. All bought and paid for by your republican leadership.
  11. Reader14
    Report Abuse
    Reader14 - June 25, 2012 9:44 am
    Well, as the saying goes “wouldn't that just blow your dress up”? Not too surprising, given the way things have been going in this country lately. Whatever happened to State's rights? Guess we Montanans will have to start bowing to the east (toward D.C.) every morning.

    How long will it be before corporations will be granted the right to vote? Isn’t it odd how an entity that cannot vote in an election can finance the elections?

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t individuals limited to the amount they can contribute, but corporations won’t be limited? If true, that also is very odd.

    I guess voter opinions and directives don’t matter, especially to justices that are appointees…not elected justices.

    It's sad to see that this government is no longer "of the people, by the people and for the people”. Our freedom has just been sold “to the company store”.

    Maybe the people of Montana should quit paying Federal taxes.
  12. Abonides
    Report Abuse
    Abonides - June 25, 2012 8:59 am
    This is really disappointing, I am going to vote purely Democrat this year. The Republicans have clearly sided with big business rather than the people of Montana. They have lost their way and become corrupted, completely abandoning the U.S. Constitution.

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