A federal judge on Wednesday struck down Montana's limits on contributions to state political candidates, allowing politicians in the state to receive unlimited donations from individuals, party committees and PACs.
U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell ruled that Montana's contribution limit to candidates was unconstitutionally low.
"Having reviewed and considered the entire record and the parties' arguments and evidence, the Court concludes that Montana's contribution limits in Montana Code Annotated § 13-37-216 are unconstitutional under the First Amendment," he wrote in his decision.
Citing the U.S. Supreme Court case Randall v. Sorrell, which struck down Vermont's strict limit on contributions to candidates, Lovell wrote that, "[t]he contribution limits prevent candidates from 'amassing the resources necessary for effective campaign advocacy.'"
Montana law limited individual and political action committee contributions to $630 for the gubernatorial candidates, $310 to candidates for statewide office and $160 for candidates to other office.
Political party committees could contribute $22,600 to gubernatorial candidates, $8,150 to statewide candidates, and $800 to candidates for other offices.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Montana ban on corporate political expenditures in state elections. Both cases were sparked by lawsuits filed by the American Tradition Partnership.
“The political establishment can no longer tell citizens to shut up because they’ve reached their speech limit,” ATP Montana Director Doug Lair said Wednesday. “The old contributions limits were so low candidates had no choice but to grovel before political insiders and well-organized interest groups to get elected. Those days are now over.”
[H/T: Election Law Blog]