Montana's Candidate Contribution Limits Confirmed by U.S. Supreme Court as Constitutional -

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Montana's Candidate Contribution Limits Confirmed by U.S. Supreme Court as Constitutional

Supreme Court Denies Request to Hear Lair v. Mangan

Monday, January 14, 2019/Categories: Commissioner of Political Practices, supreme court


Helena, Mont.— Today the Supreme Court noted without dissent to not hear the Montana campaign contribution case, Lair v. Mangan (SCOTUS Case No. 18-149).

The Supreme Court’s decision today denied Mr. Lair’s final opportunity to strike down Montana’s contribution limits as unconstitutional.  Montana’s contribution limits have been upheld as a “marginal restriction”[1] on an individual’s free speech and right to discuss and associate with candidates.

Montana's candidate contribution limitations were enacted by a 1994 citizen’s initiative that created limits on the amount that individuals, political committees and political parties can contribution directly to candidates.  These limits were first challenged and upheld in 2003 in Montana Right to Life Ass’n v. Eddleman. 

In 2011, Montana’s contribution limits were again challenged in Lair v. Murry.  The challenge worked its way up and down the courts, and in May 2016—just prior to the primary elections—Montana’s limits were struck down as unconstitutional. 

With today's Supreme Court decision, Montana's limits are confirmed as constitutional.

“Montana’s limits leave candidates with the ability to conduct an effective campaign for office,” said the Commissioner of Political Practice’s Chief Legal Counsel, Jaime MacNaughton. “Our limits allow individuals to associate with the candidate of their choice through their own speech, volunteering, discussing their merits with their neighbors, and through making their voice heard at the ballot box.  Montana secured a victory today for transparency and accountability in our government and elected officials.” 

The Commissioner would like to thank the Montana Attorney General's office whose dedicated  attorneys who have defended Montanans’ rights over the past sixteen years.   

The mission of the Commissioner of Political Practices is to promote confidence, transparency, and accountability in Montana’s democratic processes.  Additional information about campaign finance disclosure requirements are available on the Commissioner of Political Practices’ website.



[1]  See e.g. Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 20-21.


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