In the News: USA Today: Montana gave Supreme Court no choice

Montana gave Supreme Court no choice

By Bradley A. Smith

The Supreme Court had no choice but to overrule the Montana Supreme Court. Montana argued that it is so corrupt that it can ignore the First Amendment. It would be as if a state argued that its crime rates were so high that it could conduct unreasonable searches without a warrant, or that its courts were so backlogged it could dispense with the right to trial by jury.

Still, some hoped that the nation’s highest court would revisit Citizens United, its landmark 2010 decision on campaign finance. But why should it? The horror stories critics predicted have not come true.

Corporate money remains a very small part of the total spent on elections, with Fortune 100 money almost non-existent. Voter turnout in the 2010 was the highest in a midterm election since 1994. More House races were competitive in 2010 than we’ve seen in a generation. Nor is there a flood of secret money into elections. Citizens United did not change disclosure laws. Every campaign ad says who paid for it; every “Super PAC” must disclose all donors of more than $200. Non-profits such as the NAACP or the NRA don’t disclose their donors, but they never have. The only difference: Before Citizens United, these groups ran ads saying, “Candidate X favors gutting national security. Call X, and say ‘Stop!’ ” Now they can run the same ad, but end it more honestly with, “Vote against X.”

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.