The Supreme Court may not have ruled on the highly-anticipated health care case today, but it did deliver a couple of other noteworthy opinions, including one that overturned Montana’s century-old ban on corporate political contributions.
The Montana Supreme Court ruled that the Citizens United decision—which allows corporations and unions to spend an unlimited amount on political campaigns—did not have to be applied to Montana elections, citing the state's longstanding history of "copper kings" who bribed legislators.
This case has particular relevance to D.C. because the District is currently trying to push a proposal through a ballot initiative to ban corporate contributions to D.C. political campaigns.
In fact, D.C. and 21 other states argued in a court filing backing Montana in the case.
But today’s ruling doesn’t necessarily derail D.C.’s effort, Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post wrote.
Unlike D.C., the Montana ban tries to do more than just prohibit corporations from donating money directly to candidates.
Montana bans all corporate spending “in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.”
There was some thought among campaign finance lawyers that the Montana case might be an opportunity for the court to revisit the direct-contributions issue. But by summarily overturning the Montana law without hearing arguments next fall, it chose to pass. However, it might not pass on a future case that presents the question more directly.
That case might be U.S. v. Danielczyk, Elias said — currently being litigated across the Potomac. In that case, two businessmen were charged with using corporate funds to illegally reimburse people who donated to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Last June, a U.S. District Court judge handling the case overturned the federal ban on corporate contributions to candidates, citing Citizens United. The case is on appeal to the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, which heard oral arguments last month.
Long story short, the backers of what’s now known as Initiative 70 are in the clear constitutionally — for now. To get on the ballot, they must deliver approximately 23,000 valid signatures to the D.C. Board of Elections by July 9.
While the spirit of Montana and D.C.’s ban are similar, D.C’s is not as far-reaching and therefore still stands a chance of survival.
* The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled Monday that Maryland can count prison inmates at their last known addresses—as opposed to their prison address—for redistricting purposes, according to The Washington Times.
The state first used prisoner’s last known addresses in last year’s congressional and legislative redistricting. The Supreme Court upheld this practice.
The Court also dismissed the portion of the lawsuit claiming that the state’s new congressional map dilutes the influence of black voters.
* Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who faces a tough reelection bid, has been fined $5,000 by the FEC this year after repeatedly filing incomplete and inaccurate campaign finance reports, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Sun found that the 10-term incumbent has received 25 letters from the agency for incomplete reports since 2009—more than any other current member of the House of Representatives.
But Bartlett said the issues are old and his campaign has since hired an accountant to sort out any remaining issues.
* Mitt Romney will hold an event Wednesday afternoon at a design and production service company in Sterling.
On Tuesday he will be in Roanoke.
* D.C. Councilman Marino Barry withdrew his opposition to a $50 million contract needed to complete the work on a street car line along H Street NE, according to The Washington Examiner.
He withdrew the resolution of disapproval he filed last week, which would have effectively held up the design-build contract for 45-days.
"The most important goal is to keep as much money in the District as we can," Barry said. "My goal has been and continues to be creating jobs and opportunities for District residents and safeguarding their hard-earned, taxpayer dollars."