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Volunteers help roll up a giant banner printed with the Preamble to the United States Constitution during a demonstration against the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall October 20, 2010 in Washington, DC. The rally at the memorial was organized by brothers Laird and Robin Monahan who spent the last five months walking from San Francisco, California, to Washington to protest the court decision, which overturned the provision of the McCain-Feingold law barring corporations and unions from paying for political ads made independently of candidate campaigns.
The battle over political campaign contributions and financing looks set to take center stage in the U.S. Supreme Court once again.
The battle this time is over a 1906 anti-corruption law in Montana. The Corrupt Practices Act prohibits corporate contributions to political campaigns in the Treasure State, a ban upheld by the Montana Supreme Court last year.
However, opponents, led by the American Tradition Partnership, say the ruling is in conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 “Citizens United” decision, which struck down bans on campaign spending by corporations and unions under the First Amendment.
On Friday, Montana's Attorney General, Steve Bullock, supported by U.S. Senators John McCain and Sheldon Whitehouse, hit back at the opposition, filing their own brief in the U.S. Supreme Court asking for Montana's 1906 ban to stay in place for fear of election corruption returning to the state. The case is expected to reopen the row over election financing and have repercussions for campaign contributions across the United States.
Will the Supreme Court agree to hear a case that could reverse “Citizens United”? Should states have the right to limit campaign financing, even if federal law prohibits it? If the Montana law stands, could other states in the union enact similar laws to limit “Citizens United”? How do you see campaign contributions changing the political landscape? Should limits be placed on how much corporations give to political campaigns? Are big cash contributions just a part of today’s democratic process?
James Bopp, Jr., Lead Counsel representing American Tradition Partnership in their legal petition to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging Montana's ban on corporate election spending; Bopp was also the legal advisor for Citizens United, which led to the historic Supreme Court decision in 2010
Adam Skaggs, Senior Counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy program, New York University School of Law; Skaggs, on behalf of the Brennan Center, filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Montana’s ban on corporate election spending