-By Dan Whitcomb
October 23, 2012- The Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to block a Montana law limiting campaign contributions to candidates for statewide office, leaving the caps in place at least through the November general election.
The high court upheld a ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco earlier this month that temporarily reinstated Montana's right to regulate campaign contributions after a federal judge struck down the restrictions as unconstitutional.
Several conservative advocacy groups, led by American Tradition Partnership, had asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the case to block the 9th Circuit Court ruling while the case was pending. But the top court, in a one-paragraph order, denied the petition.
"The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling confirms that American Tradition Partnership's latest ploy had no merit, and is a blow to the moneyed interests that want to sway our elections for their own ends," Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock said in a statement responding to the ruling.
The legal fight over Montana's campaign finance laws has been closely watched following a 2010 Supreme Court decision that found corporations and unions had a constitutional free-speech right to spend freely to support or oppose political candidates.
The Montana law, enacted after a 1994 voter initiative, caps contributions by individuals and political action committees at $630 for gubernatorial candidates, $310 for other statewide offices and at $160 for all other public offices.