Montana is fighting forces that “seek to turn back the clock to the days when corporate interests controlled our government and our courts,” Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock asserts in a Los Angeles Times op-ed.
Bullock is a named defendant in a case being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court that could, if the high court grants review, lead to revisiting its controversial Citizens United decision. Bullock, in defending a Montana anti-corruption statute that bars indirect corporate expenditures on state elections, writes:
“I believe states should have the right to be the masters of their own elections. The integrity of our system and the voices of Montanans, whatever their political views, are too important to be drowned out by modern-day copper kings.”
Justice at Stake has taken a stand in support of the Montana statute, warning in an amicus brief that if the century-old law is overturned, the state “may find its courts once again bought by corporate special interests.” JAS joined eight retired Montana Supreme Court justices in the filing (see Gavel Grab).
With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to decide whether to take up the Montana case, and a presidential election cycle well under way, the aftermath of Citizens United has continued to be a topic of hot national debate.
Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor for the Washington Post, wrote in a Post commentary that leading congressional Republicans were in favor of political disclosure before Citizens United, but now they’re against it.
“Now that they have Unlimited Donations, or something pretty close, they don’t want Unlimited Disclosure after all,” Hiatt wrote. “They want unlimited contributions, in secret,” and they’re unwilling to sign onto a disclosure bill pending in Congress, he said.
A 5-4 majority in Citizens United lifted key restraints on political spending by corporations and unions. The court voted 8-1 in another part of the decision in favor of disclosure. The court explained, “The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and give proper weight to different speakers and messages.”
In other commentary and reporting, Fred Wertheimer wrote “Citizens United: Watergate Redux” for Politico; NPR aired a report entitled “‘Citizens United’ Gets Renewed Scrutiny;”and a Washington Post article was headlined “Post-Watergate campaign finance limits undercut by changes.” On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court did not issue an order in the Montana case. An order could come later this month.