Earlier this year, the Montana Supreme Court upheld the state’s century-old Corrupt Practices Act that banned direct expenditures in elections for state offices. In the Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, justices argued that because outside expenditures were independent, they could not be corrupting. Montana’s Attorney General, and the Montana Supreme Court, disagreed citing the state’s own history of corruption. Today, in the American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock ruling, the Court overturned state's Supreme Court ruling.
Public Campaign issued this press release, stating that this is "just another example of the Supreme Court siding with wealthy interests and against common sense and everyday people."
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer said: “Thus, Montana’s experience, like considerable experience elsewhere since the Court’s decision in Citizens United, casts grave doubt on the Court’s supposition that independent expenditures do not corrupt or appear to do so,” Breyer wrote.
Here's what some others are saying in he aftermath of the decision:
Common Cause issued this press release, and President Bob Edgar noted: “The Court’s majority has once again chosen ideology over common sense and left American voters defenseless against the forced sale of our elections to big corporations and billionaires.”
In a press release, the American Federation of Teachers said: "The Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Montana's clean election laws, in an effective reaffirmation of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is as disturbing as it is disappointing. Now even states have no power to inoculate their own elections from the corrosive effects of unlimited corporate influence. America's highest court has reasserted big corporations' license to use their record profits to try to silence the voices of Americans who work hard every day serving our communities, teaching our children and healing our sick."
Russ Fiengold's Progressives United said: "The Supreme Court just doubled down on its disastrous Citizens United decision -- and the purely corporate agenda they’ve adopted, despite widespread outcries from the public."
Public Citizen issued this press release, saying: “The Supreme Court continues to deny reality when it comes to assessing the impact of independent spending on elections,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “The court is not going to overturn Citizens United, at least in the near term. It thus falls on the people to overturn the court, through a constitutional amendment.”
U.S. PIRG offered this statement: "Today the Supreme Court passed on the opportunity to revisit its disastrous 2010 Citizens United decision which is wreaking havoc on democracy and it has done so in a way that avoids giving the American public a much deserved explanation."
The White House weighed in late Monday afternoon, stating: "We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not take the opportunity presented by the Montana case to revisit its decision in Citizens United. In the aftermath of the Citizens United decision, we have seen unprecedented amounts of campaign spending, often by groups that won't disclose their donors. Citizens United was wrong when it was decided and as two Supreme Court Justices have observed since, independent expenditures by corporations are threatening the health of our democracy. Citizens United mistakenly overruled longstanding cases that protected the fairness and integrity of elections. Unfortunately, the Court today missed an opportunity to correct that mistake."
The LA Times reports on lead Fair Elections Now Act sponsor, Sen. Dick Durbin's (D-Ill.), reaction to the ruling. Durbin notes the fall out since Citizens United (which was essentially upheld with the Montana decision): “These American oligarchs are trying to control the political system for their own purposes, either for their own philosophy or their own pocketbook,” Durbin said. This Supreme Court just doesn’t get it.”
This page will be updated as more reaction comes in.
Bloomberg: The Supreme Court's Cowardice
"In summarily dismissing a Montana case in which the state’s high court had upheld an anti- corruption statute regulating corporate spending on elections, the U.S. Supreme Court this week opted to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no truth."
Chicago Tribune: Free Speech and Political Reality
"What part of "free speech" does the Montana Supreme Court not understand? That was the question that arose after it upheld a state ban on corporate campaign spending — in defiance of theU.S. Supreme Court's 2010 ruling that corporations are entitled to participate in debate about elections. On Monday, the court informed the Montana justices: We meant what we said.
The Daily Beast: Supreme Court Slam-Dunks Campaign-Finance Reform in Montana Case
"Democrats have yet another reason to be depressed about the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 ruling, with all five Republican-appointed justices voting together, the court knocked down a Montana law that would have kept in place long-standing limits in the rural state on political contributions."
Kansas City Star: Campaign Finance Laws Completely Toothless
"You might think that the laws forbidding coordination between politicians' own campaigns and outside advocacy groups would have prevented Karl Rove from speaking Saturday at a retreat for Mitt Romney's biggest donors. But Rove, whose Crossroads GPS is probably the most widely known advocacy group, was unfazed. That tells you all you need to know about the toothless nature of campaign finance law."
LA Times: The Supreme Court was not about to Reconsider Citizens United
"The New York Times' editorial page was shocked and appalled that, a mere two years after the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court dealt summarily with a plea by the state of Montana that it revisit the issue of corporate spending on political campaigns. Whatever you think of Citizens United, the idea that the high court would upend such a fresh precedent is fantastic. In upholding the Montana law, that state's Supreme Court was cruising for a judicial bruising."
Minn Post: Ellison Slams Supreme Court Campaign Finance Ruling
"[The Supreme Court's] 5-4 decision Monday to summarily dismiss a case concerning a Montana law banning campaign contributions by corporations is a blow to those advocating for less corporate money in politics, [U.S. Rep. Keith] Ellison, a Democrat, among them."
Mother Jones: In New Decision, Supreme Court Still Loves Citizens United
"In a case billed as "Citizens United II," the US Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear new arguments on the wisdom of its 2010 Citizens United decision, the court's most controversial campaign finance ruling in years. By a 5-4 vote, the court summarily reversed a decision by the Montana Supreme Court upholding that state's century-old ban on independent political spending by corporations. This deals a blow to reformers who hoped to undo or chip away at Citizens United and stem the expansion of special interest money in elections."
National Journal: Supreme Court Campaign Finance Ruling Shows Reformers' Weak Position
The Supreme Court's rejection of a long-shot legal challenge to let states bar corporate and union political contributions in their own elections underscores the legal quandary in which many left-of-center campaign finance reformers find themselves."
NYT: Citizens United
"The Supreme Court examined the Arizona immigration law in minute detail, but when it came to revisiting the damage caused by its own handiwork in the 2010 Citizens United case, it couldn’t be bothered. In a single dismissive paragraph on Monday, the court’s conservative majority refused to allow Montana or any other state to impose limits on corporate election spending and wouldn’t even entertain arguments on the subject."
Oregon Live: Supreme Court's Campaign Finance Decision Argues for Scrutiny
"Even as judges and activists squabble over the sums flowing into campaigns and the so-called super PACS, Portland mayoral candidates Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith are discussing self-imposed campaign limits."
Slate: Money Grubbers
"It is time for everyone to drop all the talk about the Roberts court's "judicial minimalism," with Chief Justice Roberts as an "umpire" who just calls balls and strikes. Make no mistake, this is an activist court that is well on its way to recrafting constitutional law in its image."
Star Tribune: Supreme Court's Campaign Money Case Could Spur Move for more Dergulation of Outside Spending
"Corporations and labor unions have been emboldened this election season to spend unlimited sums of cash. The Supreme Court is telling them to go full speed ahead."
USA Today: Campaign-Finance Future Haunted by Montana's Past
"Money spent anonymously to influence elections is almost by definition corrupting. If the public cannot make the connection between lawmakers' actions and the monied interests backing them, the temptation for almost extortion-like pressure is sure to follow.That prospect is very troubling. The future, it seems, might not be so far removed from Montana's past."
WSJ: Supreme Court Majority United
"Believe it or not, the Supreme Court means what it says about the First Amendment. That was the short but sweet message from the Justices on Monday as they affirmed that their 2010 campaign-finance decision in Citizens United is the law of the land—and that goes for states too."