National Journal: Supreme Court will stand by American Tradition Partnership

National Journal reports this morning on liberal claims that American Tradition Partnership’s challenge to Montana’s unconstitutional anti-speech laws offers the U.S. Supreme Court an opportunity to overturn its Citizens United v. FEC ruling.

The Court simply won’t, and will in all likelihood strike down Montana’s clearly unconstitutional laws without wasting time with a hearing.

National Journal reports ATP’s challenge will, in fact, strengthen, free speech laws and lead to uninfringed political speech in Montana.

National Journal members can read the full article here.

The case, American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock, centers on a century-old Montana law that prohibits corporations from spending money on political campaigns. The U.S. Supreme Court appeared to have rendered the state law unconstitutional in 2010 in its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that allowed unlimited corporate and union spending on elections; but the Montana Supreme Court unexpectedly upheld the ban last year.

The state judges contended that Citizens United does not apply to Montana’s anti-corruption measure–arguing, in effect, that the state should be able to determine how to regulate campaigns within its borders. Supporters of the state court’s decision, according to Rick Hasen, a campaign finance expert at the University of California (Irvine) School of Law, have framed it as a defense of federalism, a tactic calibrated to appeal to the Supreme Court’s majority conservative bloc. …

Legal experts of all ideological stripes expect the Supreme Court to strike down the Montana law, maybe as early as this month, even though more than 20 states have filed briefs in support of Montana’s position, contending that Citizens United in its short life has already had an observable, corrupting influence on national politics.

Ruling otherwise wouldn’t necessarily require the Court to reconsider Citizens United wholesale; it could instead carve out some breathing room for states to regulate and still maintain the framework that allows unlimited contributions to outside political groups, corporations, and unions. But because the Court’s composition has not changed since the decision came down, the justices are much more likely to choose the path of least resistance at their June 14 conference: They could merely vote to strike down the Montana law without a hearing.