Somewhat lost amid today’s Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB 1070, the Court reinforced First Amendment free speech rights as affirmed in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. In fact, the Court did so without the need for full review, oral argument and exhaustive written briefing. Demonstrating in this instance that brevity is the soul of sound jurisprudence, the Court in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock overturned a Montana Supreme Court decision favoring a ban on political speech that flatly contradicted Citizens United. The single-page majority opinion is notable for its cogency:
A Montana state law provides that a “corporation may not make . . . an expenditure in connection with a candidate or a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate or a political party.” Mont. Code Ann. §13–35–227(1) (2011). The Montana Supreme Court rejected petitioners’ claim that this statute violates the First Amendment. 2011 MT 328, 363 Mont. 220, 271 P. 3d 1. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, this Court struck down a similar federal law, holding that “political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation.” 558 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (slip op., at 26) (internal quotation marks omitted). The question presented in this case is whether the holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state law. There can be no serious doubt that it does. See U. S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2. Montana’s arguments in support of the judgment below either were already rejected in Citizens United, or fail to meaningfully distinguish that case.
The petition for certiorari is granted. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Montana is reversed.
It is so ordered.”
The First Amendment, the Constitution itself and free speech have been vindicated.