When the gavel fell in the U.S. Supreme Court’s chamber after the justices overturned Montana’s century-old ban on corporate electioneering on Monday, it drove another nail into the coffin of American democracy.
Of course, America’s campaign finance laws have been riddled with loopholes for years. What’s new and scary is the emerging audacity and overt politicization of the Supreme Court.
Taken narrowly, the 5-4 ruling, American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, affirmed the rights of corporations to participate in Montana elections by overturning a 1912 ban that top Montana political leaders and judges said was needed to keep the Big Sky State’s low-cost elections free from undue influence by wealthy interests.
“Montana’s arguments… were already rejected in Citizens United or fail to meaningfully distinguish the case,” the Supreme Court majority’s one-page ruling said.
More broadly, the Court’s right-wing majority reaffirmed the controversial 2010 ruling with impunity. By not revisiting any aspect of Citizens United, they declared that new facts upending the decision did not matter. Nor would they admit that they had erred on key points in Citizens United, or that public outcry over the ruling meant much, or that major loopholes unleashed by Citizens United – and follow-up court rulings – were relevant.
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