Montana Reversal Unfortunate but Predictable – Emphasizes Need for New FEC Commissioners & Legislative Solutions: Statement of Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and summarily reversed the Montana State Supreme Court in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, striking down Montana’s long-standing corporate expenditure restriction.

Statement of Paul S. Ryan, Senior Counsel:

Unfortunately the only surprise would have been if the Supreme Court had taken the opportunity to revisit its horribly misguided decision in Citizens United.  Clearly the Supreme Court has decided to wash its hands of the disastrous results of its earlier decision.  Apparently the same five Justices who gave us Citizens Unitedare not troubled by the fact that special interests are picking the winners and losers in our federal and state elections.

In dissent, Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan, point out that “technically independent expenditures” can in fact corrupt despite the majority opinion in Citizens United.  The Campaign Legal Center argued this point extensively in its amici brief filed with the court in May.  If anyone truly believes that independent expenditures cannot corrupt they are simply not paying attention.

It is time for action across the street from the Supreme Court in Congress and it is time for President Obama to live up to his promise to bring change to the Federal Election Commission.  In the short term the President must nominate new commissioners to the FEC, which has shown contempt for the laws passed by Congress.  The Commission’s job is to implement and enforce the law, not to write it and enforce it selectively.  Congress must find longer term solutions to this problem, but in the short term it must quit ignoring the will of the people and pass the DISCLOSE Act so that at least citizens will be able to see who or what is trying to buy their vote.

The current situation, wrought by Citizens United, is nothing short of a gross debasement of our democracy and the idea of one citizen, one vote.  In theory the decision is naïve.  In practice it is shameful.