- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2012

The Supreme Court on Friday temporarily blocked a Montana law that had banned corporations from running political ads, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the case makes it likely the Supreme Court will have to revisit the Citizens United ruling that has unleashed a flood of ads this year.

“Montana’s experience, and experience elsewhere since this Court’s decision in Citizens United … make it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations ‘do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,’” Justice Ginsburg said in an opinion released along with the court’s stay of the Montana law. “A petition for certiorari will give the court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway.”

She agreed with the rest of the court in halting enforcement of Montana’s law, saying it violates the Citizens United decision the Supreme Court issued in 2010 that found corporations have First Amendment rights to make their views heard in political campaigns.

That decision meant that business interests, wealthy individuals and unions can now spend freely on ads — though they are still bound by limits on how much they can give directly to candidates for federal office, or to national political parties.

Montana’s law had blocked corporations from spending, and last year the state’s Supreme Court upheld the law, ignoring the Citizens United decision.

Justice Ginsburg said that cannot be allowed, but said it is time the federal courts rethink the Citizens United decision.

Campaign finance legislation championed by Sen. John McCain and former Sen. Russell D. Feingold last decade rewrote the laws to try to rein in the ability of interest groups to run ads during elections, to limit political parties’ spending and to expand the role of candidates in raising and spending campaign money.

The Supreme Court upheld that law, but in 2010 it carved out an exception, saying that outside groups have a First Amendment right to express their viewpoints.

President Obama and fellow Democrats have pushed for Congress to revisit the law and try to impose disclosure requirements on those interest groups, but Republicans have generally resisted.

In the GOP’s presidential primary this year, so-called Super PACs — which are able to raise unlimited money from corporations, unions and individuals — have flooded airwaves with ads.

Earlier this month, Mr. Obama reversed his position and blessed a Democratic-backed Super PAC to compete with the GOP.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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