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Domini Files Amicus Brief to Defend Montana's Ban on Corporate Political Contributions

Last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission legalized unlimited corporate spending on political advertisements that name candidates. The decision helped to unleash a flood of spending in the mid-term elections, and overturned numerous state laws banning corporate political contributions.

In an effort to limit the damage of this far-reaching decision, and help to inform the debate on corporate political contributions, Domini has filed an amicus curiae brief in Western Tradition Partnership v. Attorney General of the State of Montana, currently before the Supreme Court of the State of Montana. Domini is joined by a coalition of investors managing more than $100 billion. The investor brief supports the state of Montana’s effort to defend its recently overturned 100-year ban on corporate political contributions.

The brief draws on our experience as institutional investors, seeking to inform the continuing national debate about the proper place of corporations in electoral politics. By placing facts before the court that were not considered by the Supreme Court last year, we hope to inform the development of post-Citizens United legal reforms.

The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision was premised on the fact that the corporations at issue were voluntary "associations of citizens" and that the members and shareholders of those corporations could object to the corporation's political spending through the "procedures of corporate democracy." Neither of these facts is true with respect to large, publicly traded companies.

The investor brief argues that a publicly traded corporation is not a voluntary association of citizens, and that no mechanism exists to allow shareholders to express their political views through the corporate form, or to ensure that they are not compelled to “speak” against their interests.

Read the amicus brief.

Read the Motion to Participate, describing each organization and its interest in the case.