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Montana Supreme Court distinguishes Citizens United, upholds century-old state-law limits on corporate campaign contributions

On December 30, the Montana Supreme Court issued an important decision upholding Montana's statutory limits on corporate campaign finance. The statute has been on the books since 1912 and was the state's response to the political wars between the "Copper Kings" of Butte and Anaconda. In its decision in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General, the Montana Supreme Court carefully distinguished Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 130 S. Ct. 876, 175 L. Ed. 2d 753 (2010), and concluded that Citizens United does not invalidate all statutory restrictions on corporate political speech. The Montana Supreme Court reviewed the sad and often painful history of political corruption in Montana and held that the State had demonstrated a compelling state interest sufficient to justify Montana's statutory limits on corporate campaign financing.

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