The landmark case that overturned key components of McCain-Feingold — namely, bans on campaign contributions by businesses and unions — has been trickling down in challenges to similar state laws including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and yesterday, Montana. The Western Tradition Partnership (called “secretive” and “nasty” by the fair-and-balanced Associated Press) and two other small business plaintiffs challenged a 1912 state law that prohibited the financing of electoral campaigns by corporations:
District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock of Helena tossed out the 1912 Corrupt Practices Act – a throwback to a time when the public rebelled with a voter-backed initiative against the “Copper Kings” and their hold on state politics. That law prohibited corporations from making independent political expenditures.
The state law came under fire after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, threw out parts of an old federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from paying to air ads for or against political candidates….
“The First Amendment was intended to protect citizens from the government, not to shield politicians from criticism,” said [WTP] director Donald Ferguson. “The court has restored fairness and balance to elections by allowing employers to speak freely about the radical environmentalist candidates and issues that threaten your right to earn a living.”
Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock said he would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.