The Supreme Court on Monday overturned Montana’s campaign finance restrictions in a decision that reaffirms the high court’s earlier ruling that corporations and unions are entitled to free speech rights in political campaigns.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court said Montana’s 100-year-old law runs afoul of the 2010 Citizens United decision, which held that “political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.”
The five-justice majority, made up of Republican-appointed members, said Montana’s law is no different from the parts of the 2002 federal campaign law they struck down two years ago.
In a sharp dissent, the four justices appointed by Democratic presidents repeated their opposition to Citizens United, signaling they reject the ruling as precedent.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the minority, also appealed to federalism, saying that even if the court were right to strike down restrictions at the federal level, Montana lawmakers should be free to decide that corporate political spending has a corrupting influence in their state.
The court ruled without ever hearing oral arguments, deciding that the case was so similar to the Citizens United situation that that wasn’t necessary.
Montana’s 1912 law banned corporate spending in campaigns. It was upheld by the state’s high court, which ruled that the danger of elections being bought by corporate spending was too high in Montana.
Interest groups challenged the law, saying it couldn’t stand in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and the top court agreed on Monday.
Read more: The Washington Times