Washington, DC (PRWEB) April 13, 2012
The controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision commonly known as Citizens United may be declared unenforceable and ineffective in the State of Montana and other states, as early as May of this year, after a non-partisan citizens group served a notice on Friday that directly challenges the Supreme Court’s constitutional authority to hear an important Citizens United appeal case scheduled for a preliminary ruling on or after April 28th.
The Eleventh Amendment Movement (TEAM), a non-partisan political action association based in Hawaii, will make the claim that, according to the Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution, the high court has no jurisdictional authority to hear an upcoming case involving Montana and Citizens United. If it is determined that the Court does not have jurisdiction to accept the Montana case for hearing, then Citizens United’s provisions for unlimited corporate spending in state elections will immediately become unenforceable in Montana and presumably other states.
“The Eleventh Amendment to the Constitution, and related case precedents, clearly indicate that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to hear this Montana case,” said Adam Furgatch, a spokesman for TEAM, in an interview. “Because the Court should not accept this case, Montana’s anti-corruption election laws will then stand, effectively negating the dictates of Citizens United.”
Mr. Furgatch explained further, “Contrary to recent news reports, the Court has not yet agreed to take this case and the Eleventh Amendment requires very specific circumstances for the Court to hear cases involving a state government. Those constitutional conditions are seemingly not present here and the Montana case should be denied a hearing.”
In January, Montana’s Supreme Court upheld the state’s right to enforce its own anti-corruption election finance laws, in defiance of the federally mandated Citizens United ruling that allows for unlimited corporate spending in state elections. In March, a petition was filed that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Montana case on appeal and to summarily reverse Montana’s ruling. TEAM’s attorneys will submit a full legal argument later in April that will ask the Court to deny the petition and to refuse to hear the case on constitutional grounds.
A refusal by the Supreme Court to hear the Montana case would allow the state to continue enforcing its strict anti-corruption election financing and spending laws. In that event, Citizens United’s provisions for virtually unlimited corporate spending in state elections would become irrelevant in Montana. The Court’s refusal would also serve as precedent for other states to actively enforce their existing election laws or to enact similar laws, with some confidence that the Supreme Court will not overturn them.
Mr. Furgatch stated, “Here is a real opportunity, right now, this month, to essentially reverse Citizens United for this election cycle, without waiting for a Constitutional amendment or for Congress to act, which could take years. We are urgently calling on all states’ Governors and attorneys general to support Montana and declare Eleventh Amendment immunity from the Federal judiciary and to claim control over their own elections. It’s a states’ rights issue, as well as a ‘get money out of politics’ issue…but we must act quickly.”
Supreme Court rules indicate there is a Tuesday, April 17th deadline for the attorneys general of all fifty states to file their own Notice to support Montana with a legal filing, called an amicus curiae (friend-of-the-court) brief. Any state may also sign on to support another state’s amicus brief prior to an April 27th deadline to file the final documents.
TEAM’s Eleventh Amendment brief is being prepared by experienced Supreme Court litigators and all state attorneys general are urged to contact TEAM to review a draft of the brief. The group’s primary message says that all states have a unique opportunity to stand up to the Federal judiciary right here and now, declare state sovereignty, and to enforce the will of the majority of their citizens.
“This is a non-partisan effort that may be endorsed by all those opposed to Citizens United,” Mr. Furgatch emphasized. “Political leaders as diverse as President Obama and Senator John McCain agree that the Supreme Court made a colossal error, and polls show that a large majority of voters think Citizens United was a bad decision. Preventing the Supreme Court from grabbing jurisdiction in the Montana case will be a major victory for states’ rights and huge blow to those who would profit from unlimited election spending.”
TEAM’s website at http://www.11thAmendment.org offers an action plan for individuals and groups to participate. Latest updates, social media contacts, video clips, and legal filings are all posted to the website as they are made available.
Case Citations from this story:
1. Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010)
2. Montana Supreme Court decision: Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General, ___P.3d___, 363 Mont. 220 (Mont. 2011)
3. Petition for a Writ of Certiorari: American Tradition Partnership, Inc., fka Western Tradition Partnership, Inc., et al., Petitioners v. Steve Bullock, Attorney General of Montana, et al. – U.S. Supreme Court Docket # 11-1179
Contact: Lia Martin: 310-464-6225