University of Denver

Reaction to Ninth Circuit's Ruling on Montana Political Endorsement Ban

IAALS Intern

In Sanders County Republican Committee v. Bullock, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Montana law that restricted political parties from endorsing or contributing to  judicial campaigns. The Ninth Circuit ruled 2-1 that the political endorsement ban deprived voters of their First Amendment rights, which entitles them to full and robust exchange of views.  The Ninth Circuit relied on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), in which the Supreme Court held independent political expenditures by corporations or other associations were considered protected political speech which the government could not restrict. 

The Atlantic reports their disfavor with the Ninth Circuit’s decision, maintaining the statute acted to “protect the integrity of [Montana’s] nonpartisan judicial elections” and “stood as a bulwark against the corroding effect of money's influence on judicial integrity.” The Atlantic states the removal of this statute and other similar statutes will create state judiciaries beholden to special interests and corrupted by money and lobbying.

For more information on the Ninth Circuit's decision and its impact on Montana's judicial selection process, see Ninth Circuit Holds Montana Political Endorsement Ban Unconstitutional.