Ninth Circuit Overturns Lower Court Decision Enjoining Montana Contribution Limits


Today in Lair v. Bullock, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a district court ruling that struck down Montana’s political campaign contribution limits.  The Ninth Circuit panel remanded the case to the district court on the ground that the district court applied the incorrect standard in analyzing the Montana’s limits.

The district court had permanently enjoined Montana’s limits on contributions from individuals, PACs and political party committees to state candidates on the basis that the limits are unconstitutionally low.  

In July 2014, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Common Cause, Justice at Stake and the League of Women Voters, filed an amici brief in the case urging the Ninth Circuit to overturn the lower court ruling.  The brief emphasized that the district court disregarded both Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent to overturn Montana’s limits on contributions to state candidates, including candidates for judicial election.

“We are relieved that today’s decision preserves Montana’s contribution limits, which continue to act as vital protections against corruption and the appearance of corruption in state politics,” said Megan P. McAllen, Campaign Legal Center Associate Counsel.  “Montana has a long and unhappy history, dating to the age of the Copper Barons, of its richest citizens buying official action in Helena with massive campaign contributions.  Today’s decision staves off a return to that era.”

To read the opinion, click here.

To read the full brief, click here