In general, the members of SGCCI do not believe lawsuits are a good way to change government policy. But sometimes there is no other choice. We regret having to use the legal system as a tool to protect the Constitution and freedom, but in this case, we feel forced to challenge Montana State law. Precious Constitutional freedoms form the foundation for our law. Use them or lose them. Below is an explanation.
1.) Why is it important to make sure groups like SGCCI are not subject to the state’s regulations on political committees?
Because first and foremost Montana state law violates United States Constitutional Law and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Buckley vs. Valeo and the decision in the Citizens United case. Specificlly, we believe that the Office of Commissioner of Political Practices (COPP) is being used for inappropriate purposes. We were threatened repeatedly by one of our elected officials with legal action and the threat of retaliation from COPP as a result of a letter we sent to Sweet Grass County citizens. In other words, candidates and elected officials are using a Montana State agency to limit our free speech and association. We simply will not stand still for this.
2.) How do you think SGCCI’s role as plaintiff will affect this lawsuit?
We stand in support of the lawsuit as an example of citizens suppressed by misguided elected officials and an over reaching government agency. Our purpose is to uphold the free speech and free association rights of every Montana Citizen and every Montana group that engages in political speech and association, regardless of political viewpoint. In addition, our purpose is to raise the awareness of our citizens to the very subtle and insidious loss of our personal freedoms currently taking place. We believe this results from of a lack of knowledge about the founding principles contained in our Constitution and the explosion of government growth and dependency.
3.) Are there any other state laws or practices or legal actions that SGCCI has its eye on?
Sadly, it is a target rich environment with far more Constitutional rights violations than we have the resources to defend. We will pick and choose our battles carefully focusing on blatant violations which affect the largest number of Montana citizens.