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American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock

Public Citizen Litigation Group, working with a group of lawyers, submitted an amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court arguing that the decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee has damaged our electoral system by unleashing limitless contributions by corporations, labor unions, and individuals to Super PACs and other groups closely aligned with candidates for office. The brief, submitted on behalf of seven former federal and state officials, supports the State of Montana in its effort to defend the Montana Supreme Court’s decision in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, upholding the state’s longstanding limits on corporate political spending. Groups challenging the Montana law asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review and summarily reverse the state court’s decision. The amicus brief urged the Supreme Court to reject that request.

The brief explained that the Citizens United decision posited that so-called “independent” political spending posed no threat of corrupting candidates, clearing the way for Super PACs and other outside spending groups to collect unlimited contributions to use in support of candidates. The result has been that candidates have come to rely on million-dollar-plus contributions to those groups in the same way they have traditionally relied on contributions to their own campaigns, and the threat of corruption posed by huge cash transfers to Super PACs and other spending groups grows more apparent each day. The brief asked the Court, if it decided to hear the case, to reconsider Citizens United’s fundamental premises, including the mistaken view that “independent” spending cannot lead to corruption. The Supreme Court summarily reversed the Montana Supreme Court based on the decision in Citizens United.