The attorney general’s office asked the Montana Supreme Court on Monday to keep in place the state’s century-old ban on direct spending by corporations on political candidates or committees until the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the law. Last month, the Montana Supreme Court restored the state’s ban by deciding it does not run afoul of the U.S. Constitution, as a lower state court had initially ruled. A politically involved corporation had challenged the 1912 Corrupt Practices Act, which passed as a ballot initiative. It argued the law unconstitutionally blocks political speech by corporations.
Western Tradition Partnership, which also goes by American Tradition Partnership, has asked the Montana high court to stay its decision restoring the ban until it is reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The conservative group argues the Montana Supreme Court failed to recognize the supremacy of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case that granted political speech rights to corporations.
But the Montana Supreme Court decided last month that Montana’s law does not unconstitutionally restrict speech. It pointed out there are plenty of ways for corporations to engage in politics without funneling anonymous money into the process.