U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number



2011 Term


Questions Presented

In Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010), this Court held that a federal ban on corporate independent political expenditures was unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The Montana Supreme Court, however, upheld a ban on corporate independent political expenditures in Montana state elections because it said that “unlike Citizens United, this case concerns Montana law, Montana elections and it arises from Montana history.” App.13a. This presents the following issue: Whether Montana is bound by the holding of Citizens United, that a ban on corporate independent political expenditures is a violation of the First Amendment, when the ban applies to state, rather than federal, elections.

Case Updates

U.S. Supreme Court decides political speech protections under federal law

June 25, 2012

In a per curiam opinion, the Supreme Court summarily reversed the Montana Supreme Court.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

April 27, 2012

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the U.S. Supreme Court to summarily reverse a Montana Supreme Court decision that upheld a state-law ban on political speech by that is materially indistinguishable from the federal law the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional in Citizens United v. FEC. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court overturned a provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) that “ban[ned] the political speech of millions of associations of citizens,” including businesses of every size, labor unions, and public interest groups. According to the Chamber’s brief, in Citizens United, the Supreme Court confirmed once again that the First Amendment does not tolerate suppression of speech based on the speaker’s identity, which has the inevitable effect of targeting specific content and viewpoints. The Chamber’s brief also argued that to the extent that there has been more speech in recent elections, that is precisely what the First Amendment is intended to promote, and is not an excuse to resurrect a censorship regime. The Chamber’s brief also explained that Montana has a long and unfortunate history of flouting controlling precedent in this area. It took over 20 years and three Ninth Circuit decisions to bring Montana into compliance with a 1978 First Amendment decision.

Case Documents