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Press Release

Ninth Circuit’s Ruling in Montana Case a Victory for Contribution Limits

Today the Ninth Circuit held Montana’s contribution limits are constitutional in a 2–1 decision, marking the fourth favorable decision for Montana from the appeals court.

October 23, 2017

Today the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the state of Montana in Lair v. Motl (previously Lair v. Bullock and Lair v. Murry) in a 2–1 decision. The court held that Montana’s contribution limits are constitutional, reversing the decision issued by the federal district court in Montana the previous year. This is the fourth favorable decision for Montana from the appeals court, following rulings from May 2016, May 2015, and October 2012.

The Brennan Center along with the law firm Reed Smith LLP submitted an amicus brief in the case. Like the Ninth Circuit majority, the brief argued that Montana’s contribution limits further an important state interest in curtailing the risk of corruption, and that the district court failed to give appropriate deference to the people of Montana, who enacted the limits through a referendum.

“This was not a hard case,” said Daniel I. Weiner, Senior Counsel in the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “For decades, courts have upheld campaign contribution limits as a reasonable way to protect the integrity of our democracy. The people of Montana voted overwhelmingly for limits in their state elections, and the Ninth Circuit rightly deferred to their judgment.”

For more information or to set up an interview, please contact Beatriz Aldereguia (, 646–292–8369).