RESPONDENT: Steve Bullock, Attorney General of Montana, et al.
LOCATION: Montana Supreme Court
DOCKET NO.: 11-1179
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT: Montana Supreme Court
CITATION: 567 US (2012)
GRANTED: Jun 25, 2012
DECIDED: Jun 25, 2012
Facts of the case
A Montana law states that a corporation may not "make an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party." The petitioners - American Tradition Partnership (formerly Western Tradition Partnership), Champion Painting, and Montana Shooting Sports Association - sued the Attorney General of Montana and the Commissioner of Political Practices on the grounds that the statute violated their First Amendment right to free speech. The district court found the statute unconstitutional and granted summary judgment for the petitioners. The Supreme Court of Montana found that the statute did not materially impact the freedom of speech of the corporations, and if it did, it served a compelling state interest to protect the electoral process. The Supreme Court of Montana reversed the judgment of the lower court.
Does the Montana state law violate the First Amendment rights of corporations?