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Who's Afraid Of Free Speech?

Posted by Garrett Quinn, Less is More  June 25, 2012 02:24 PM

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Well, it looks like the Citizens United ruling and the subsequent deregulation of campaign speech has survived its first serious challenge:

A Montana state law provides that a “corporation may not make . . . an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.” Mont. Code Ann. §13– 35–227(1) (2011). The Montana Supreme Court rejected petitioners’ claim that this statute violates the First Amendment. 2011 MT 328, 363 Mont. 220, 271 P. 3d 1. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, this Court struck down a similar federal law, holding that “political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.” 558 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (slip op., at 26) (internal quotation marks omitted). The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does. See U. S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2. Montana’s arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case. The petition for certiorari is granted. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Montana is reversed
(Emphasis mine)

The Court's short unsigned ruling, not exactly an unexpected one, indicates that it has little appetite for rehashing Citizens United any time soon and that its ruling extends to campaign expenditures for state offices. Despite what the Montana Supreme Court thinks, it is not above the First Amendment.

Opponents of free speech the law are already ringing their hands about passing an amendment to the Constitution to stop a mythical flood of corporate money into campaigns. Apparently opponents preferred the system that enabled entrenched incumbents and connected insiders over challengers and outsiders. We have lived in a Citizens United world for two years and it has, without question, made the political process more accessible and more exciting. Today's ruling by the Supreme Court reaffirms this.

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About the author

Garrett Quinn began writing for newspapers at age 17 with CNC in his native South Shore. He has been published in BlueMassGroup, RedMassGroup, Pioneer Investigates, and Wonkette. He is a More »

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