The Not So Heroic Citizens United Challenge

The campaign for Attorney General Steve Bullock is hoping to paint the AG as the heroic fighter challenging Citizens United at the United States Supreme Court.  It certainly is an opportunity for a lot of earned media for the gubernatorial candidate.  

When you read between the lines, it is very clear that Bullock isn’t doing anything monumental or revolutionary.  All four Attorney General candidates, Democrat and Republican, said they would be doing the same thing.  Why? It has nothing to do with politics.  The answer, plain and simple, is that it is the Attorney General’s job to defend any Montana laws, whether he agrees with the laws or not. 

In fact, according to candidate profiles in The Great Falls Tribune, even the Republican candidates stated they would defend Montana’s election laws. 

The candidates were asked if they “think Montana’s 1912 Corrupt Practices Act is constitutional?” 

AG Candidate Tim Fox (R):  As Montana’s next attorney general, I will defend Montana’s laws when those laws are challenged in court, including campaign finance and election laws like the Corrupt Practices Act. As of the date of this answer, that act is presumed to be constitutional unless and until the U.S. Supreme Court determines otherwise. I will fight against corrupt campaign practices and will promote transparency and fairness in our elections.

AG Candidate Jim Shockley (R):  It is not the job of the attorney general to “rule” on the constitutionality of laws. It is the attorney general’s job to defend their constitutionality in court regardless of his or her opinion of the law. That is what the incumbent is doing and so would I. Courts determine what is constitutional and what is not constitutional, not the attorney general. 

On the other hand, what will be monumental is if Attorney General Steve Bullock loses his third case before The United States Supreme Court.  Despite only having served less than one term as Montana’s Attorney General, Bullock has already lost two cases before the US Supreme Court. 

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