S.B. 320 would directly and unambiguously contradict the Supreme Court’s holding in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and the subsequent reaffirmation of that holding in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock. Its passage would evidence a marked lack of concern for the rule of law and would expose Montana to costly re-litigation of an already-settled legal question.
In a misguided attempt to respond to Montanans’ passage of Initiative-166, which, as passed, “charg[ed] Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, with implementing a policy that corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights,” the proposed legislation ignores the policy directions of the initiative and is unequivocally unconstitutional.
Accordingly, if S.B. 320 is signed into law as written, the provision will again be successfully challenged. Any potential legal action will cost the state a great deal of money defending the case, and will distract the Attorney General’s office from meritorious legal work. Additionally, it is probable that the state will be forced by the courts to pay legal fees to any potential plaintiffs. Legal fee awards can cost governments well over one hundred thousand dollars.
A copy of the comments can be found here.