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December 04, 2016
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Activists ask for legislative support; the push to counter Citizens United

It’s not clear if a majority of the Sullivan County Legislature will vote in favor of a resolution to support the proposed constitutional amendment, but some of them have already announced their support. Among those is lawmaker Cora Edwards, who said, “I’m a 100% supporter of grassroots activism, and this particular resolution is at an important time because we have a November election coming up, and I have seen what happens when groups of people start to put petitions together. It’s important that we show that we think corporations should not be able to spend unlimited funds on national or local campaigns.”

Some 200 local governments and five state assemblies have endorsed the proposed constitutional amendment, as has the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Supreme Court doubles down on Citizens United

WASHINGTON, DC — There was a case of corruption so blatant in 1898 in Montana that the U.S. Senate refused to seat the senator from Montana because it was assumed he had bribed his way into office. He was one of the Copper Kings who had great influence in the state at the time and, because of that history, the Montana high court said its ban on corporate political spending was justified.

No it’s not, said the high court of the United States. In a five-to-four decision handed down on June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court said that Montana, like every other state in the Union, must follow the dictates of the Citizens United decision, which allows nearly unlimited corporate spending to influence the outcomes of political races. In the original decision in 2010, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote that such freewheeling political expenditures “do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

Justice Stephen Breyer, who opposed Citizen’s United, wrote of the Montana decision, “Even if I were to accept Citizens United, this court’s legal conclusion should not bar the Montana Supreme Court’s finding, made on the record before it, that independent expenditures by corporations did in fact lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption in Montana.
Given the history and political landscape in Montana, that court concluded that the state had a compelling interest in limiting independent expenditures by corporations.”