The Supreme Court of Montana on Aug. 10 ruled that its state’s November ballots may include Initiative 166, a nonbinding policy statement that would direct the state’s congress to support an amendment to the US Constitution asserting that corporations are not people and money does not qualify as speech. The goal of the endeavor is to counteract the 2010 US Supreme Court decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows corporations to spend and contribute unlimited and unrestricted money in political campaigns. The court’s majority made clear, however, that its decision was limited only to whether the initiative complied with constitutional requirements regarding its proper submission to electors, and that it did not consider the “substantive legality of the issue, if approved by voters.” The dissent echoed this distinction, labeling Initiative 166 as “simply a feel-good exercise exhibiting contempt for the federal government and, particularly, the US Supreme Court.”
Campaign finance laws have been recently contentious in the state of Montana. In a June per curiam opinion, the US Supreme Court struck down a century-old Montana campaign finance law that restricted the amount of money corporations can spend on political campaigns. In particular, the court said that the restrictions imposed by Montana’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act were already rejected by the Citizens United ruling. The June order overturned a previous Montana Supreme Court decision upholding the law.
From Jurist, Aug. 11. Used with permission.
See our last post on corporate rule.