The Lesser-Known SCOTUS Ruling

By: Drew Zimmerman,
Friday, June 29th, 2012 2:54 PM

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has dominated nearly every domestic news cycle this week, and with good reason. You’ve undoubtedly heard some chatter about the landmark cases just decided within the last five days, regarding the constitutionality of both The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare” to some) and Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 Immigration Law. But have you heard about Montana?

Protestors outside the Supreme Court on Monday

Seemingly swept under the rug by the mainstream media, Montana’s challenge to the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling of 2010, which allows for limitless Corporate spending on US elections under the guise of “free speech”, was struck down this week by the same contingent of conservative Judges. After Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, statutes on corporate money fell in many other states, but not in Montana. There, the state’s high court ruled that a flat ban on corporate political spending was justified, based on Montana’s history of extensive, corporate-financed corruption in state government, back in the decades around the turn of the 20th century.

Many opponents of CU felt that this case would be a quick path to re-opening the argument, even though it seemed unlikely they would be victorious, as exempting one state from federal campaign spending regulations has no precedent. Still, it was a worthy gamble, as this election is already well on it’s way to shattering all previous spending records. Currently, the spending total for both parties is about $1 billion, with virtually all of it spent on negative ads, and some estimate the total could reach $9.8 billion by November. Obama v. McCain only saw $1.8 billion in spending, which doubled 2004 totals.

So, what do we do now? While it’s clear that Citizens United won’t be overturned any time in the immediate future, there is still hope. Opposition forces can push for a constitutional amendment limiting corporate spending, or wait for the make-up of the highest court in the land to change, while promoting incremental changes along the way. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is more probable, either way it’s sure to be a difficult journey.