Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Robert Brady (D-PA), Charles Gonzalez (D-TX), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the Montana State Supreme Court's decision to uphold a century of precedent and keep unlimited corporate contributions out of their elections.
The Members' brief highlights three issues. First, it addresses the absence of transparency and accountability as presumed by Citizens United; second, that misinterpretations of the Citizens United decision have prevented a legislative action on disclosure requirements; and third, that the Court must strongly affirm that Citizens United allows for, and in fact relies on, improved disclosure requirements. For these reasons, the Members believe the Supreme Court must not intervene where the Montana Supreme Court saw the need to prevent corrupting influences within their own elections.
"Clearly the court did not intend for their decision in Citizens United to create an electoral process that is dominated by outside groups that bankroll elections through secret donors. Under this decision, the rights of corporations have eclipsed the rights of individuals by obscuring the identity of deep pocket contributors who seek to influence their vote," said Rep. Van Hollen. "Opening the floodgates to the coffers of unidentified special interests is wrong for Montana and wrong for America."
"This case is a chance for the Court to clean up some of the mess it made in Citizens United," said House Administration Ranking Member Robert Brady. "Since that decision, we've seen the effect of unlimited, secret contributions and it is nothing like the majority opinion envisioned"
"The State of Montana has seen what the Supreme Court had not when Citizens United was handed down, something the campaigns since have shown every one of us: that independent expenditures and corporate spending produce "corruption or the appearance of corruption'," said Rep. Gonzalez. "The Court urged Congress to prevent the worst effects by passing disclosure legislation. Majorities in Congress tried, but a Senate minority filibustered our effort. The Supreme Court should not undo Montana's efforts to protect its citizens and its democracy from the corrupting influence of unlimited corporate money that mutes the voice of the average citizen."
"If corporations and wealthy individuals are allowed to contribute millions of dollars to influence elections, the public has a right to know where this money came from and where it is going," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren. "The Supreme Court should recognize the important role Congress and state legislatures play in setting disclosure requirements when it comes to what corporations spend to influence elections."