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Tue June 26, 2012
Supreme Court Reaffirms Citizens United Decision
Originally published on Tue June 26, 2012 8:25 am
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
The U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a Montana state law banning corporate campaign spending. In doing so, it reaffirmed its controversial Citizens United decision.
Montana Public Radio's Dan Boyce reports.
DAN BOYCE, BYLINE: Montana voters passed the ban on corporate spending in state races 100 years ago. They did so to limit the influence of powerful copper barons. The conservative group American Tradition Partnership sued the state following the 2010 Citizens United ruling.
Donald Ferguson is the group's executive director.
DONALD FERGUSON: When people come together and voluntarily associate they should have the right to speak freely without seeking permission or jumping through regulatory hoops.
BOYCE: A right which Ferguson says will now apply to both business and unions.
Montana's Democratic Attorney General Steve Bullock - who's also running for Governor this fall - defended the law before the state supreme court. He's frustrated the U.S. Supreme Court applied Citizens United to Montana's ban without a full hearing.
ATTORNEY GENERAL STEVE BULLOCK: It's really a sad day for democracy and all of us that want to believe that the Supreme Court is more than just another political body in Washington, D.C.
BOYCE: Both Montana's Democratic senators condemned the court's ruling as well, along with Governor Brian Schweitzer, also a Democrat. He believes the court is mistaken in saying corporations should have the same political free-speech rights as people.
GOVERNOR BRIAN SCHWEITZER: Well, I'll believe that when a corporation die on a battlefield for this country.
BOYCE: Schweitzer is calling on Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to undo Citizen's United.
For NPR News, I'm Dan Boyce in Helena, Montana. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.