Big Money Corporate Spending in Elections May Lose in Supreme Court: Citizens United Ruling Faces Imminent Reversal

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The Eleventh Amendment Movement (TEAM,, has filed an 11th Amendment constitutional challenge in the U.S. Supreme Court that may result in the immediate and effective reversal of Citizens United, the controversial 2010 Court decision that allows for virtually unlimited corporate spending in state elections.

“The 11th Amendment forbids the Supreme Court from hearing this Montana case...and Citizens United will be effectively reversed immediately, right here, right now."

Citizens United, the controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows for virtually unlimited corporate spending in state elections, may face an immediate effective reversal if the Court refuses, on 11th Amendment constitutional grounds, to hear a case involving Citizens United and the State of Montana.

The Eleventh Amendment Movement (TEAM,, a non-partisan political action association based in Hawaii, last week filed an amicus curiae “friend-of-the-court” brief that raises the 11th Amendment jurisdictional issue in the current case of American Tradition Partnership vs. Steve Bullock (Montana Attorney General). That case involves a recent Montana Supreme Court decision that upheld the state’s own anti-corruption election finance laws in defiance of the federally mandated Citizens United ruling. Montana’s decision has now been petitioned for appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court has not yet decided whether it will hear the appeal, but is expected to rule soon.

“The 11th Amendment to the Constitution forbids the Supreme Court from hearing this Montana case,” said Carl Mayer, lead attorney for TEAM. “Since the Court has no jurisdiction and must refuse the case, then Montana’s laws will automatically stand and Citizens United will be effectively reversed immediately, right here, right now. This is a result that the vast majority of Americans would welcome and we’re confident that the justices will uphold their duty to the Constitution in this important case.”

Adam Furgatch, a co-founder of TEAM, explained part of the 11th Amendment argument, “Besides the foundational constitutional principles at work here, the Citizens United folks made a fatal technical error in bringing this suit against Montana to the Supreme Court. They didn’t even file the papers properly and on those grounds alone, the case should be thrown out.”

The error in the appeal petition is how Montana is named as a defendant. According to Mr. Furgatch, “The state’s Attorney General (Steve Bullock) or other officers may not be named as defendants in their official capacity, yet the Citizens United petitioners did just that and made an ‘important, irreversible blunder.’”

Mr. Furgatch likened the situation to when “a baseball pitcher commits a balk with the winning run on third base or when the basketball is shot after the buzzer sounds. The Court’s umpires must now call it like they see it. Rules are rules and the justices must enforce them and throw the case out.”

Mr. Mayer added, “Of all the briefs filed and arguments made in this case, TEAM’s brief is one of only two that strike at the heart of the Court’s constitutional jurisdiction. In litigation, there is nothing more fundamental to winning a case than to deny jurisdiction to a court when it is not warranted. The 11th Amendment clearly restricts the Supreme Court in this case against a sovereign state and we can win solely on that basis.”

Mr. Mayer, fresh off of a recent victory in another high profile, constitutional legal battle where he successfully persuaded a federal judge to declare unconstitutional an Act of Congress that threatened to detain U.S citizens in military prisons without charges, called the 11th Amendment challenge in the Montana case “one of the most significant constitutional issues in American history.”

He summed up TEAM’s efforts, “Enforcing the 11th Amendment to deny the Supreme Court jurisdiction in the Montana case will allow Montana’s election laws to stand and Citizens United will be effectively reversed immediately. It will be a huge blow to those who would profit from unlimited election spending, and be a huge step towards getting corrupting money out of politics. We expect the Court to do the right thing and uphold the Constitution.”

TEAM’s website provides full text of the brief and other background information.

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

4. Hedges v. Obama, S.D.N.Y., Case No. 12-CV-331 (KBF)(Slip Opinion, May 16, 2012)

Contact: Lia Martin: 310-464-6225

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