The outcome of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and its effect on campaign finance spending is being rejected by voters, most recently those in Montana and Colorado.
Montana residents, by a 3-to-1 margin, voted on Tuesday that “corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings,” as stated on state ballot initiative number 166. Voters in Colorado passed a similar resolution.
The Citizens United decision, which allows corporations to contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns through super PACs, is considered to favor Republican candidates moreso than Democrats or liberal candidates. It allows wealthy individuals and corporations to make unlimited political donations, although Democratic leaning unions receive the same rights under the law.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court equated money in the form of political donations with free speech in order to justify its decision.
The ruling gave way to the formation of super PACs such as Restore Our Future and American Crossroads, which supported Mitt Romney, and Priorities USA, which supported President Barack Obama.
American Crossroads, which spent over $300 million on Republican candidates in 2012 according to Reuters, was created in part by GOP advisor Karl Rove. In contrast, Priorities USA, which spent at least $57 million to get Obama re-elected according to Business Week, was headed by former White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton.
This isn’t the first time Montana’s opposition to the Citizens United ruling has received attention.
In June, a 100-year-old Montana state law barring corporations from taking part in political activity was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to the ruling, the Montana Supreme Court had refused to strike down the state's ban on election spending by corporations.
According to the L.A. Times, Montana’s mining history played a large role in the state’s strict campaign spending laws when the Montana's "copper kings" notoriously bribed legislators in the 19th century.
According to the Huffington Post
, 11 states have passed some kind of resolution in support of overturning Citizens United.
California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont all passed resolutions through their legislatures, and majorities of legislators in Connecticut and Maryland sent letters to Congress calling for a constitutional amendment opposing the ruling, Huffington Post reported.
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