- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Appellate Procedure
- Date Filed: 06-21-2013
- Case #: 12-35816
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Senior District Judge Rakoff for the Court; Circuit Judges Schroeder and Gould
- Full Text Opinion
Sanders County Republican Central Committee (“the Committee”) filed a suit against the State of Montana’s Attorney General and its Commissioners of Political Practices (“Montana Commissioners”), seeking a declaration that part of the Montana statute which made it a criminal offense for a political party to “endorse, contribute to, or make an expenditure to support or oppose a judicial candidate” in a non-partisan judicial election, was unconstitutional and sought an injunction. On September 17, 2012 the Ninth Circuit remanded and determined that Montana’s ban on endorsement and expenditures made by a political party violated the Committee’s rights under the First Amendment, therefore granting preliminary injunction. The district court permanently enjoined Montana Commissioners from criminally enforcing part of § 13-35-231. In an appeal of that injunction, the Ninth Circuit held that this panel must follow its published decision findings from previous cases unless it can be overruled by a competent body, therefore determining that the § 13-35-231’s ban on endorsement and expenditures is unconstitutional and permanently enjoining Montana Commissioners from criminally enforcing those portions of the statute. The panel also determined that because the previous publish decision did not reach the issue of the statute’s ban on contributions the permanent injunction should be reviewed only to apply to the portions referring to the statute’s ban on endorsement and expenditures. AFFIRMED IN PART and REVERSED AND REMANDED IN PART.