Leaving an entire state with mouths agape, a right-wing federal judge in Montana today ruled that all campaign contribution limits for political candidates are—unconstitutional.
Like every other state in America, Montana sets rules on how much cash you can give to a campaign. A Gubernatorial campaign may take $630 from an individual, Attorney General candidates $310, state legislators $160, and so on down the line.
But Judge Charles Lovell, a Reagan appointee who hails from a family of right-wing operatives (more on that later), has decided that these laws–which have been on our books (and every other state’s books, and the federal government’s books) for most of our history–violate the First Amendment.
This has nothing to do, mind you, with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision protecting corporate money in politics. This is about limits on individual donations. Because of this ruling, the Koch brothers may now write a personal check for an unlimited quantity to any Montana candidate of their choice.
The basis of the Judge’s ruling? “Campaign contribution limits prevent candidates from amassing campaign resources,” he wrote.
Huh? Yes, Your Honor, that’s the point of having such laws. They limit the amount of resources that a candidate can amass, a byproduct of restricting the amount of resources that one individual (like the Koch brothers or George Soros) may give a candidate, which prevents the buying of influence.
This is a truly bizarre ruling, and I am sorry to say this, but I believe that Judge Lovell must either be drunk, demented, stupid or simply corrupt. My guess is the latter. Lovell knows that if you get rid of contribution limits, you give an edge to the GOP, because the GOP has more wealthy donors than Democrats. For this reason, I believe, Lovell has waited until the day that voting has begun (overseas ballots started coming in this week), so that by the time a higher federal court can overturn this idiotic ruling, it will be so late in the game that it will be moot.
And the most insidious part is that the judge issued the order, and said in the order that he would not issue an actual written decision until some future date. So he provided no reasoning at all except for the single quote I provided above. You see, he was in a huge rush to protect everybody’s First Amendment rights.
So for now, Montana apparently has no campaign donation limits at all. With the stroke of a pen, a federal judge has invalidated them. Intelligent Discontenthas a post up on the ruling that you’ll want to read too. UPDATE: James Conner at the Flathead Memo also has a post up entitled “Let’s not let Judge Lovell’s campaign contributions crisis go to waste.”
This follows on the heels of other right-wing lunacy from the federal Montana bench. A while back, a federal judge was caught sending racist emails to his friends about Obama.
In the instant case, by the way, the Judge’s son, Lance Lovell is also a lawyer, spends much of his time getting his name in the newspaper by bringing suit against the Democratic Governor, Brian Schweitzer. So using the courts for purposes of advancing Republican Politics is all in the family with the Lovells.