Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
Once again the corporate owned, conservative Supreme Court has struck down the 1998 Arizona Campaign Finance Law provided escalating matching funds to candidates who accept public financing. How the Roberts’ court decided that law violates the First Amendment rights of these corporation is truly a backbreaking twist if logic and the constitution.
The vote was again 5-to-4, with the same five justices in the majority as in the Citizens United decision. The majority’s rationale was that the law violated the First Amendment rights of candidates who raise private money. Such candidates, the majority said, may be reluctant to spend money to speak if they know that it will give rise to counter-speech paid for by the government.
“Laws like Arizona’s matching funds provision that inhibit robust and wide-open political debate without sufficient justification cannot stand,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. Justice Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined the majority opinion.
What about the under funded candidate’s right to be heard under the First amendment? The reason for the law, which was written after a corruption scandals rocked the state’s election financing during the 90’s, was to foster free speech:
The idea was to encourage candidates to forgo the scramble for money, with all its inherent invitations to corruption — to spend more time speaking to the electorate, and less time speaking to potential funders.
In that sense, its goal was very much to increase genuine political speech. But to the Roberts court, money as speech takes precedence over speech as speech.
The court’s majority clearly telegraphed its antipathy to the Arizona provision during oral arguments in March. The only real suspense was whether they would go further, and use the case to cast doubt on public financing generally.
So there was a sense of relief in the good-government community Monday.
“This is not the death knell of public financing. This ruling affects only one mechanism of public financing, and there are numerous ways to fix it,” said Common Cause president Bob Edgar in a statement. “Today, in the wake of Citizens United, it is more critical than ever that we change the way we pay for our elections by moving to a small donor system that gives the public a voice back in our government. Nothing short of our democracy is at stake.”
Well, thank these corporate shill justices for that.