Montana Corporations Ask United States Supreme Court to Reverse Montana State Court Ruling Upholding Ban on Corporate Independent Expenditures Despite Citizens United

James Madison Center for Free Speech
1 South 6th Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807-3510
www.jamesmadisoncenter.org
PRESS RELEASE
Friday, February 10, 2012
Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
Phone 812-232-2434; Fax 812-235-3685; jboppjr@aol.com
Montana Corporations Ask United States Supreme Court  to Reverse Montana State Court Ruling Upholding  Ban on Corporate Independent Expenditures Despite Citizens United

Today, the political advocacy group American Tradition Partnership, along with two other corporate plaintiffs, Champion Painting and the Montana Shooting Sports Association, have asked Justice Anthony Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court to put on hold and then the Supreme Court to reverse a decision by the Montana Supreme Court, which upheld its law prohibiting corporate independent expenditures despite the decision in Citizens United v. FEC which held such bans unconstitutional. Today,  Montana Supreme Court refused to stay its opinion pending an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In December of 2011, the Montana Supreme Court found that Montana’s ban on corporate independent expenditures did not violate the First Amendment. The Court reversed the trial court which had recognized that the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court struck down a similar federal corporate speech ban, meant that Montana’s ban was unconstitutional. The Montana Supreme Court said that Citizens United did not control Montana’s law, because Montana’s experience was different, and that the state’s corporate-speech ban was justified by a number of alleged governmental interests, including an interest in preventing political corruption, which Citizens United had rejected.
The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit challenging Montana’s corporate speech ban in March of 2010. They had hoped to use corporate funds to pay for advertisements and other educational campaigns in order to communicate important information to the voters about candidates and their positions on issues of importance to the plaintiffs. Moreover, plaintiffs wished to use corporate funds to communicate to voters which candidates they support and oppose during the run-up to the 2012 election. With Montana’s corporate independent speech ban in force, the plaintiffs are prohibited from engaging in their desired activities.
James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for the plaintiffs, is confident the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn the Montana Supreme Court’s ruling: “Unequivocally, Citizens United means that corporate independent expenditure bans are invalid under the United States Constitution. The Montana Supreme Court has shirked its responsibility to follow that decisions and the United States Supreme Court should reverse their ruling.”
The case is Western Tradition Partnership et al., v. Attorney General et al. The plaintiffs’ motion for stay is available here   http://www.jamesmadisoncenter.org/cases/files/2012/01/Application-for-Stay-final.pdf
James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state election law practice.  He is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society.