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Dellinger, Demos: Supreme Court Wrong to Deny Montana its Day in Court on Citizens United

WASHINGTON - Today, the United States Supreme Court summarily reversed the Montana Supreme Court decision to uphold a state law restricting corporate spending in elections, squandering a chance to review the disastrous consequences of Citizens United. Today’s decision demonstrates unwarranted disrespect for Montana and denies the State the chance to show why its hundred-year-old law is necessary to protect its government from corruption and to encourage voter participation in democracy. Former acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, Professor James Sample of Hofstra Law School, Arnold & Porter LLP, and Demos collaborated on an amicus brief arguing against summary reversal.  They issued the following statements:

"It is very disappointing that the Supreme Court would not even give Montana its day in court to show through full briefing and argument why its hundred year old Corrupt Practices Act is necessary to protect Montana's government from corruption" said Walter Dellinger, former acting Solicitor General and partner at O'Melveny & Myers LLP. "This cavalier dismissal of the considered judgment of all three branches of Montana's government is hardly consistent with the Supreme Court majority's professed concern for the autonomy of the states."

“Ignoring Montana’s state-specific and fact-specific circumstances makes it clear that those who claim this is a Court majority composed of judicial minimalists and genuine federalists are engaged in little more than marketing,” said Professor James Sample.

“The vision of the Constitution was intended to promote the democratic ideal of political equality – not the rule of money over our elections,” said Demos Counsel Liz Kennedy. “Today, the Roberts Court showed itself unwilling to consider the facts when it confronts questions central to sustaining a free and fair democracy.  Instead, the Court continued down its recent path of manipulating the rules for corporations and the one percent to create a society in which the strength of a citizen's voice depends up on the size of her wallet.”


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“Recent polling has already shown that many Americans are less likely to vote because they think big money donors have more influence with elected representatives than average citizens,” said Demos Counsel Adam Lioz. “This is a crisis for the ideal of government of, by and for the people, and today the Court has refused to revisit its role in perpetuating our democratic decline. “

Kent Yalowitz, partner at Arnold & Porter LLP and Counsel of Record on the brief, added, “Today the Court has shackled the freedom of states like Montana to root out corruption in the electoral process. Worse, it does so in a decision based on power not precedent.  The last time the Court issued such a decision was the notorious Bush v. Gore.”

READ: Amicus Brief, American Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Bullock

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A multi-issue national organization, Demos combines research, policy development, and advocacy to influence public debates and catalyze change. We publish books, reports, and briefing papers that illuminate critical problems and advance innovative solutions; work at both the national and state level with advocates and policymakers to promote reforms; help to build the capacity and skills of key progressive constituencies; project our values into the media by promoting Demos Fellows and staff in print, broadcast, and Internet venues; and host public events that showcase new ideas and leading progressive voices.

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