A judge for the US District Court for the District of Montana [official website] on Wednesday ruled [order, PDF] that a state law [MCA § 13-37-216] that limits campaign contributions violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder]. Montana's campaign finance law limits the individual contributions to gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidates to $500 and contributions to candidates for other statewide offices to $250. Judge Charles Lovell held that the law unconstitutionally prevents both candidates and potential donors from being able to wage an effective political campaign:
[T]he Court concludes that Montana's contribution limits in Montana Code Annotated Section 13-37-216 are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. ... The contribution limits prevent candidates from amassing the resources necessary for effective campaign advocacy. ... The defendants are therefore permanently enjoined from enforcing these limits.Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock plans to appeal the decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official websites].
In June the US Supreme Court [official website] struck down [JURIST report] Montana's century-old campaign finance law known as the 1912 Corrupt Practices Act [PPL backgrounder] as invalid under the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission [JURIST report]. The Supreme Court's decision overturned a ruling [JURIST report] by the Montana Supreme Court [official website] that upheld the Corrupt Practices Act.