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Supreme Court strikes down Montana campaign finance law

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Monday issued a per curiam opinion [text, PDF], striking down a century-old campaign finance law in Montana that restricts the amount of money corporations can spend on campaigns. In American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock [SCOTUSblog backgrounder], the court found that the restrictions imposed by Montana's 1912 Corrupt Practices Act [PPL backgrounder] were already rejected by the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [opinion, PDF; JURIST report], which struck down a regulation that prohibited corporations and unions from using their general treasury funds for "electioneering communications" aimed at supporting or opposing a political candidate. In its decision, the court concluded that Montana's arguments in favor of the law were either already rejected by the decision in Citizens United, or failed to meaningfully distinguish that case. Four justices dissented, renewing their objections to the decision in Citizens United. The court's decision overturns the ruling of the Montana Supreme Court upholding the law [JURIST report]. In February, the Supreme Court blocked enforcement [JURIST report] of the Montana Supreme Court ruling pending a potential review of the case.

American Trade Partnership, Montana Shooting Sports Association [advocacy websites] and Champion Painting, plaintiffs in this case, petitioned the US Supreme Court [JURIST report] to overturn the Montana court's decision in February. The Montana court ruled that the law did not violate the First Amendment and distinguished it from Citizens United because it still allowed for corporations to voice their political opinions in other ways, including lobbying and creating political action committees. The plaintiffs argued that upholding this law directly conflicted with the Citizens United ruling.

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