Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Supreme Court Decision to Strike Down Montana’s 100-Year-Old Campaign Finance Law

“Today, without a hearing, the Supreme Court summarily struck down a 100-year-old Montana state law barring corporate contributions to political campaigns.  The five Justices who two and a half years ago opened the floodgates to unlimited and unaccountable corporate spending on federal political campaigns with their decision in Citizens United, now have taken another step to break down the last public safeguards preventing corporate megaphones from drowning out the voices of hardworking Americans.

“Montana’s law was enacted 100 years ago when Montana’s citizens got fed up with the massive bribery and corruption that enabled the ‘Copper Kings’ to dominate not only elections but all political debate in Montana.  In today’s decision, the Court ignored this concrete evidence of corruption that led the State of Montana to enact its law a century ago, as well as precedent that has long been on the books in many states finding no constitutional concern with laws limiting corporate contributions.

“Like Montana, Vermont is a small state with people who take seriously their civic duty and cherish their vital role in the democratic process.  It is easy to imagine the wave of corporate money we are seeing spent on elections around the country lead to corporate interests flooding the airwaves with election ads and transforming even local elections.  Today’s decision by the Court deals another severe blow to the rights of Vermonters and all Americans to speak to each other and, crucially, to actually be heard in public discourse.”

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