On Thursday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to take up in conference the consideration of a Montana campaign finance case that could lead to revisiting Citizens United. The pundits’ handicapping of the outcome does not favor campaign finance reformers.
At issue is a Montana law that bars indirect corporate expenditures on all state elections, viewed by many as conflicting with Citizens United. Montana’s Supreme Court has found the anti-corruption law constitutional, but the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked enforcement of that Montana ruling.
Justice at Stake and eight retired Montana Supreme Court justices have filed an amicus brief in the case, warning that if the century-old anti-corruption law is overturned, the state “may find its courts once again bought by corporate special interests.” An array of amicus briefs from both sides is available by clicking here for SCOTUSblog.
In a New York Times Sidebar column, Adam Liptak finds no reason to think the five justices who joined in the Citizens United majority have changed their minds, and he writes, “The main question on Thursday, then, will be how the court will reverse the Montana decision.”
“It could call for briefs, set the case down for argument in the fall and issue a decision months later. Or it could use a favorite tool of the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. — the summary reversal,” Liptak says.
A National Journal article is entitled, “The Final Frontier: A Montana case gives campaign reformers their best shot at undermining the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. But they shouldn’t get their hopes up.”
In a recent study by a group called the Corporate Reform Coalition, the authors examined how states have responded to Citizens United. Twenty-two states reviewed their laws regulating political spending and decided to respond to Citizens United in some fashion; 13 states received a score of 100 from the coalition for their disclosure requirements for political spending, and one, North Dakota, received a score of zero.