Montana Court Says Citizens United Ruling Doesn't Override State Ban On Corporate Political Spending

Martha Soukup/CC BY 2.0

More Legislative backlash against the Citizens United ruling—the Supreme Court ruling that held that corporations are people entitled to free speech and that spending money in political campaigns qualifies as free speech: The Montana Supreme Court ruled late last week that Citizens United does not make the state's existing ban on corporate political spending in state election illegal.

RawStory quotes Montana chief justice Mike McGrath on the majority opinion:

Montana, or more accurately its voters, clearly had a compelling interest to enact the challenged statute in 1912. At that time the State of Montana and its government were operating under a mere shell of legal authority, and the real social and political power was wielded by powerful corporate managers to further their own business interests. ... Issues of corporate influence, sparse population, dependence on 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. Clearly, Montana has unique and compelling interests to protect through preservation of this statute.

In the past month Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has introduced legislation that would overturn Citizens United through a constitutional amendment. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously against corporate personhood and in support of a constitutional amendment.

Today, Democracy Now! reports that California state legislators are calling for a constitutional amendment too, as well as saying that the New York City Council is expected to vote on a similar measure today.

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