U.S. Supreme Court reverses Montana finance ruling | Arkansas Blog

Monday, June 25, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court reverses Montana finance ruling

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 9:10 AM

In a decision that might have implications for the drive to improve Arkansas ethics law, the U.S. Supreme Court today reversed a Montana Supreme Court ruling upholding that state's ban on independent corporate spending on political races.

It was 5-4 — with Breyer, Kagan, Sotomayor and Ginsburg.

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.

I'll have to read further to see how this thinking squares with federal law, which was undisturbed by Citizens United and prohibits direct corporate contributions to federal candidates. This ruling, too, appears only to relate to independent spending by corporations. Montana banned it entirely, but it also banned direct contributions to candidates and that ban was upheld by lower courts and not mentioned in today's brief Supreme Court reversal.

The pending Regnat Populus 2012 initiative on Arkansas ethics reform would ban direct corporate contributions to Arkansas political candidates, though not prevent corporations from making PAC contributions or from making independent expenditures. I need to gather some opinion on whether today's ruling has an impact on that, but I don't believe this ruling imperils that provision in the Arkansas proposal. The dissent does note that independent expenditures aren't much different than direct ones to a candidate.

As Justice Stevens explained, “technically in­dependent expenditures can be corrupting in much the same way as direct contributions.” Indeed, Justice Stevens recounted a “substantial body of evidence” suggesting that “[m]any corporate inde­pendent expenditures . . . had become essentially inter­changeable with direct contributions in their capacity to generate quid pro quo arrangements.”

Common Cause says the time is night for a push for a constitutional amendment to overturn the court's ruling of unfettered corporate influence.

The court's curt reversal turned aside arguments that peculiar circumstances — such as pervasive corporate corruption historically in Montana — might support different standards in the states.

UPDATE: Here's a full explanation of where things stand on direct corporate contributions to candidates. Still OK to make them illegal. But a case is working through the courts attempting to knock that down, too.

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (13)

Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-13 of 13

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Saturday's open line

    Got any thoughts? Put them here.
    • May 21, 2016
  • Mitch Landrieu on the removal of Confederate tributes in New Orleans

    You want to hear the words of a strong mayor? Read the speech delivered by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on the removal of the last of four Lost Cause tributes in the city. THIS is a strong mayor. Brilliant.
    • May 22, 2017
  • Kenneth Starr: A comment from Betsey Wright

    Betsey Wright, former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff when he was Arkansas governor, responds bitterly to a New York Times article today quoting Whitewater Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's warm words about Clinton. She can't forget the lives Starr ruined in Arkansas.
    • May 24, 2016

Most Shared

  • Conflicts of interest in the legislatures

    The Center for Public Integrity and the Associated Press collaborated for a project aimed at highlighting state legislators whose lawmaking might be affected by private business interests.
  • Industrial hemp pilot program coming soon to Arkansas

    One of the booths at this week's Ark-La-Tex Medical Cannabis Expo was hosted by the Arkansas Hemp Association, a trade group founded to promote and expand non-intoxicating industrial hemp as an agricultural crop in the state. AHA Vice President Jeremy Fisher said the first licenses to grow experimental plots of hemp in the state should be issued by the Arkansas State Plant Board next spring.
  • Cats and dogs

    I've always been leery of people who dislike animals. To my wife and me, a house without dog hair in the corners and a cat perched on the windowsill is as barren as a highway rest stop. We're down to three dogs and two cats, the smallest menagerie we've had for years.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation