Holding: Montana’s argument in support of the judgment below was either already rejected in Citizens United v. FCC or fails to meaningfully distinguish that case.
Plain English Summary: Ordinarily, the Supreme Court does not decide a case until after it has accepted it for full-scale review, receives written legal arguments, and then holds a public hearing. Now and then, and perhaps as many as nine or ten times each Term, the Court disposes of a case without those formalities: it decides the case very soon after getting the case, usually indicating that the outcome was so predictable that there was no need to engage in full-dress proceedings. That speeded-up procedure is what the Court did on Monday in this case, by a 5-4 vote. The result was to overturn a Montana Supreme Court decision upholding a 1912 voter-approved ban on corporations’ spending of their own money on political campaigns in that state. The Court majority found that state court ruling obviously in conflict with a decision the Supreme Court had issued in January 2010 striking down a similar ban in federal law against corporate spending on politics. The four Justices in dissent conceded that the Supreme Court majority was not ready to take a new look at that 2010 decision, even in a case in which a state’s highest court had found that the state had a history of corrupt corporate influence in its political life.
Judgment: Summarily reversed in a per curiam opinion on June 25, 2012.