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Supreme Court steps into Arizona's public financing law

By Robert Barnes
The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped Arizona from distributing campaign subsidies to publicly funded candidates facing big-spending opponents.

The court granted a stay request from opponents of a decade-old law that subsidizes state candidates who agree to spend only public money on their campaigns. The high court will decide whether to review lower court decisions.

The subsidies are an attempt to blunt the influence of campaign contributors. In order to keep the publicly financed candidates from being roundly outspent, new subsidies are doled out according to the fundraising and spending of their privately financed opponents.

But those candidates, some of whom are self-financed, say the law forces them to limit their spending to avoid triggering more public money for their opponents.

A federal judge in Arizona said that made the law unconstitutional. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit disagreed, setting up the issue for the high court. Opponents of the law asked the court to stop the next round of public payments, which are scheduled for June 22, while deciding whether to hear the case.

A brief submitted by an intervener in the case, Clean Elections Institute, said disallowing the subsidies would "likely distort the outcome of the 2010 elections in Arizona."

As an example, it pointed to the governor's race. Gov. Jan Brewer (R), a publicly funded candidate, is eligible to receive more than $2.1 million under the current plan. "If matching funds were enjoined, that amount will drop by 66 percent to $707,447." Her privately financed GOP opponent Buz Mills, the brief said, already has spent nearly $2.3 million.

According to the court's order, the stay would dissolve if the court decided not to take the case. The decision on the stay, as is customary, came without explanation. There were no noted dissents.

By Robert Barnes  |  June 8, 2010; 11:36 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , 44 The Obama Presidency , 50 States  
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Comments

TOO MANY midwesterners/northeasters/emigress to AZ. I am a native Arizonan, and these newcomers WHO CONTINUE TO COMPLAIN have left their FAILED STATES where they DO NOT pay taxes USE PUBLIC entities, i.e. libraries, law enforcement, hospitals, libraries, infrastructers, et al. These are members of the 21st century KKK

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Posted by: itkonlyyou108 | June 8, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Are our elected representatives up for sale to the highest bidder/campaign contributor? Why not just have Exxon and Aetna and the other major corporations in this nation send employees to fill the spots? It would be more intellectually honest than what we are pretending to do now.

Nor does a link to a comparable taxpayer funded match make much sense. That's a really perverse incentive to run "free" public campaigns against the best funded opponents on the taxpayers tab.

Posted by: smrtmx | June 8, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Arizona needs to get even. Actually, the entire West does. The Supreme Court is dominated by Northeastern nitwits that haven't got a clue how we think. So, teach them a lesson. Take all of those illegals rounded up and send them on buses or trains to Washington D.C. Then sit back and watch. The ensuing sky rocketing crime rate, the brutal gang warfare, where hispanic gangs take great ride in including the general pubic, the identity theft, home invasion and armed robberies, stolen cars, rapes, pedophilia, welfare fraud, homicides, burglaries, drain on social services and schools and health services, is precisely what these fools deserve. Don't waste a golden opportunity! Oh, and New York City could really use a couple million, too.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | June 8, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

SCOTUS froze public funding in Arizona, thus giving a tremendous advantage to the millionaires and other privately funded candidates. No matter how it eventually rules, it has "fixed" this year's elections in Arizona. Releasing the funds in 4-6 months is too late. Doesn't anyone think there's something wrong with that?

Arizona's laws are presumed valid and constitutional until found otherwise. Yet, the injunction against public matching funds stops funding now. BEFORE THE LAW IS FOUND UNCONSTITUTIONAL
____________________________
it was found unconstitutional, by the Arizona judge. the state appealed, and the 9th circuit reversed. that opinion is stayed, leaving the trial court's ruling intact.

Posted by: JoeT1 | June 8, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Democracy is dead when elections are for sale to the candidate with the most money for slick advertising devoid of honesty or information. Of course, the candidate without millions to spend can always exercise his or her freedom of speech on street corners.

Posted by: neo-nemesis | June 8, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Arizona hang in there!!! Brewer the feds are just trying to cut you out of the race any way they can because they know and we know you will be in office again. If we donate money to your cause. The government cannot stop us nor you. After all look at our so called named president. He does not abide by our rules therefore he cannot stop us.What I would like to see is you in the oval office.The feds know that. So they have to try and stop you. We wont let that happen. Stay strong Arizona!!! Remember our founding fathers gave the states their own power for a reason, and the feds cannot stop it, but they are trying. You are a very dangerous threat to them. God Bless You!! Stay Strong! We are behind you all the way!

Posted by: Lana5 | June 8, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

So far, the SCOTUS is batting 1000 for Big Money and Corporations. No surprise since they were selected by the Corporate-backed Bush Crime Family.

NO Government-regulation. NO limits on "endowed by their creator" free-speech right to fund political Campaigns. No limit to police arrest and interrogation.

The true Party of NO!!

Posted by: thebobbob | June 8, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

How long until this neo-con SCOTUS attempts to implement a $250,000 property requirement for voting. The neo-con pitch, America for Sale to the highest bidder.

Posted by: jmdziuban1 | June 8, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree with farmsnorton. If obama's for this, count me against it too. He's shifty, and things are orchestrated to serve his own agenda.
*********************************************
That's pretty much what it comes down to, isn't it? Someone in this thread said we need more transparency and smarter voters. Bring on the transparency. Voters like the one quoted above are a lost cause.

Posted by: st50taw | June 8, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with farmsnorton. If obama's for this, count me against it too. He's shifty, and things are orchestrated to serve his own agenda.
*********************************************
That's pretty much what it comes down, isn't it? Someone in this thread said we need more transparency and smarter voters. Bring on the transparency. The smart voters are a lost cause.

Posted by: st50taw | June 8, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

America is seeing firsthand a classic showcase of millionaires trying to buy elections and take over the United States government.

The Republican Meg Whitman (billionaire), who never EVER even voted until she decided she was going buy the California Governorship this year is a prime example of somebody that has NO business in politics.

Without campaign finance laws the electoral exploitation by the super wealthy will only ratchet up until it is too late and Democracy in Americas will only be found in history books.

So this is the 'LESS-GOVERNMENT' those tea baggers are promoting alongside the Libertarian's Jim Crow Laws!!!

Unless the American People put down their damn cell phones for a minute and start paying closer attention to election issues where they do coherently understand what is about to happen - American Democracy is doomed.

A 2nd American civil war is coming...

See Ken Burns documentaries about The Great West and The American Civil War if you want to see history about to repeat itself in the very ugliest way.

Posted by: danglingwrangler | June 8, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

The RATS contingent on SCOTUS has already decided that elections are up for the highest bidder. Now they want to make sure that there are no matching funds for candidates who cannot bid as high as the SCOTUS cronies. Bah.

Posted by: frodot | June 8, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

America is seeing firsthand a classic showcase of millionaire trying to buy elections and take over the government.

Without campaign finance laws the electoral exploitation by the super wealthy will only ratchet up until it is too late and Democracy in Americas will only be found in history books.

So this is the 'LESS-GOVERNMENT' those tea baggers are promoting alongside the Libertarian's Jim Crow Laws!!!

Unless the American People put down their damn cell phones for a minute and start paying closer attention to election issues where they do coherently understand what is about to happen - American Democracy is doomed.

A 2nd American civil war is coming...

See Ken Burns documentaries about The Great West and The American Civil War if you want to see history about to repeat itself in the very ugliest way.

Posted by: danglingwrangler | June 8, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

SCOTUS froze public funding in Arizona, thus giving a tremendous advantage to the millionaires and other privately funded candidates. No matter how it eventually rules, it has "fixed" this year's elections in Arizona. Releasing the funds in 4-6 months is too late. Doesn't anyone think there's something wrong with that?

Arizona's laws are presumed valid and constitutional until found otherwise. Yet, the injunction against public matching funds stops funding now. BEFORE THE LAW IS FOUND UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Posted by: Reesh | June 8, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

So much for "States Rights" and the will of the American people. The Clean Election law was a referendum passed by Arizona voters 10 years ago and now over-turned by activist non-elected judges in Washington. Why initiate a "stay" in the middle of an election? This is changing the rules in the middle of a game.

I guess the Supreme Court is re-affirming the golden rule. They rule in favor of only those with the gold.

Posted by: DesertLeap | June 8, 2010 3:24 PM
_____________________________________
First off, the law was ruled unconstitutional by a Federal District Court judge in Arizona. The 9th District Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, overruled that decision. The SCOTUS now is deciding whether to review that decision.

Secondly, "States' Rights" and the "will of the American (Arizonan?) people" don't allow a state to violate the 1st Amendment. Based on what I've read, I don't think that this law does that, but it is within the jurisdiction of the SCOTUS to decide that question, if they decide to review the 9th Circuit decision. And if they don't, then the public financing money gets released.

Posted by: luridone | June 8, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

So much for "States Rights" and the will of the American people. The Clean Election law was a referendum passed by Arizona voters 10 years ago and now over-turned by activist non-elected judges in Washington. Why initiate a "stay" in the middle of an election? This is changing the rules in the middle of a game.

I guess the Supreme Court is re-affirming the golden rule. They rule in favor of only those with the gold.
_____________________
you have the facts backwards. An Arizona judge held the law unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution (which is why states rights are irrelevant, by the way). The federal appellate court reversed, reinstating the law. The SCOTUS has stayed that decision, which signals that they may agree with the Arizona judge that the law is unconstitutional (which would be consistent with their recent decisions taking apart the McCain-Feingold campaign reforms on first amendment grounds as well.

I'm with George Will on this one. McCain-Feingold is garbage. This law may not be much better, but perhaps a closer call because the privately funded can still spend what they want. The answer to money in politics is transparency, better candidates, and brighter voters, not spending limits.

Posted by: JoeT1 | June 8, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

So much for "States Rights" and the will of the American people. The Clean Election law was a referendum passed by Arizona voters 10 years ago and now over-turned by activist non-elected judges in Washington. Why initiate a "stay" in the middle of an election? This is changing the rules in the middle of a game.

I guess the Supreme Court is re-affirming the golden rule. They rule in favor of only those with the gold.

Posted by: DesertLeap | June 8, 2010 3:24 PM
_____________________________________
First off, the law was ruled unconstitutional by a Federal District Court judge in Arizona. The 9th District Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, overruled that decision. The SCOTUS now is deciding whether to review that decision.

Secondly, "States' Rights" and the "will of the American (Arizonan?) people" don't allow a state to violate the 1st Amendment. Based on what I've read, I don't think that this law does that, but it is within the jurisdiction of the SCOTUS to decide that question, if they decide to review the 9th Circuit decision. And if they don't, then the public financing money gets released.

Posted by: luridone | June 8, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Elections are held to be bought.

So sayeth the "originalists."

Posted by: Garak | June 8, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

So much for "States Rights" and the will of the American people. The Clean Election law was a referendum passed by Arizona voters 10 years ago and now over-turned by activist non-elected judges in Washington. Why initiate a "stay" in the middle of an election? This is changing the rules in the middle of a game.

I guess the Supreme Court is re-affirming the golden rule. They rule in favor of only those with the gold.

Posted by: DesertLeap | June 8, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

is this the same suprem court that said lobbying is the same as petitioning? we should check their financials.stay out of the states business,do what you are suppose to do interpit the US CONSTITUTION.YOU DON`T MAKE LAWS.

Posted by: SISSD1 | June 8, 2010 3:06 PM
_______________________________
And the claim here is that the state law violates the plaintiff's 1st Amendment rights. Whether that argument is right or wrong (I happen to believe it's wrong), it's a question of Constitutional intepretation, and that puts it squarely within the jurisdiction of the SCOTUS.

Posted by: luridone | June 8, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Here we have the Soprano Court again meddling in State's rights. The State of Arizona decided to provided matching funds to candidates. SCOTUS issued an injunction against matching funds until they decide the issue. That, for this election cycle, means no matching funds in Arizona. How dare this Supreme Court manipulate elections? Of course, the privately financed fat cat wins.

Those fascists who stole the 2000 presidential election should be impeached. And, I mean they should be impeached TODAY. We have enough problems without losing the right to vote. No American can possibly believe that corporations are people. Previous Supreme Court cases rejected the idea. How now did corporations come to life. Only God can do that! The idea is even more bizarre because it means ANY corporation stands on equal footing with American citizens. Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Palestine, N Korea, Myanmar, any of them can spend as much money as they want secretly (through corporations) to influence our elections.

Elections are subject to state laws. That's what the constitution says. Get the federal government out of the states.

Posted by: Reesh | June 8, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

is this the same suprem court that said lobbying is the same as petitioning? we should check their financials.stay out of the states business,do what you are suppose to do interpit the US CONSTITUTION.YOU DON`T MAKE LAWS.

Posted by: SISSD1 | June 8, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

is this the same suprem court that said lobbying is the same as petitioning? we should check their financials.stay out of the states business,do what you are suppose to do interpit the US CONSTITUTION.YOU DON`T MAKE LAWS.

Posted by: SISSD1 | June 8, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

liking dogs, for public relations is the choice for obamaa, rather than the traditional kissing of babies ,for obvious reasons ! little is known about why so many dogs are found in shelters from being abandaned by african owners with tags, some guesses arise from a corelation between conpetitive attributes in nature .

Posted by: sideboom | June 8, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

afterall, companies, foreign or domestic, are U.S. citizens accordig to those old fools.

I wonder, are unions people too?

Maybe we should get both out of the equation?

Posted by: VirginiaConservative | June 8, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

This is a matter of a STATE'S election funding rules!!!!! What the bleep does it have to do with Obama????? You Obama-haters need to take some Valium. Better yet, arsenic.

Posted by: luridone | June 8, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse


@farmsnorton and @wmpowellfan

You wrote, "If Obama is for it, I'm against it." I hate to tell you, but this is a state of Arizona issue and Obama is not involved in it at all. So, basically, you people are idiots.

By the way, I hear Obama likes dogs. Even bought a puppy for his kids. So I suppose this means you're against puppies?

Posted by: Len_RI1 | June 8, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

@farmsnorton: why do you just accept talking points, as opposed to just doing a few moments of research online, to actually find facts... and then making an informed opinion?? Reagan, both Bushes, and basically all Pols do as Obama did. It's called Politics. If you want to say Obama said he'd be above normal Politics, and he hasn't been... that can be argued. But, that he's bribed, etc, that's just hypocrisy.
As for the Gulf mess, the Feds don't have cameras monitoring every oil rig in the Gulf. The Feds HAD to rely on what BP was saying, until they ordered BP to open the camera feeds. That is when the Feds could start evaluating the extent of the mess. The GOP has blocked most appointments by Obama, thus, the Interior Dept & every other Agency is dangerously shorthanded.
What you're seeing in the Gulf, is the result of 30 years of *small government, cut taxes, drill-baby-drill, Privatization is great, let Corporations monitor themselves, etc* ideology of the Right. The Feds just don't have the resources, to do much else than fight wars, any more.
Educate yourself already, and stop letting others think for you.

Posted by: burf | June 8, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree with farmsnorton. If obama's for this, count me against it too. He's shifty, and things are orchestrated to serve his own agenda.

Posted by: wmpowellfan | June 8, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The argument against the law is that allowing the opponent to get matching funds inhibits the free-speech rights of the big spender.

In reality, it only limits the ability of big-spenders to dominate the airwaves. But having a fair fight is not nearly as important to the big-spenders as winning at any cost. They know they will recoup their investment once they have political power.

Posted by: ad9inaz | June 8, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

If Obama is for it, I'm against it. I have seen this man lie and bribe to get his way and this is not the American way. I have seen him turn away from our vets, travel, play golf and campaign for Boxer while he handed off the gulf crisis to BP for over 35 days. James Carville, a democratic adviser on CNN was screaming at Obama to get down there and lead. Nothing was really done for the first 35 days.

Posted by: farmsnorton | June 8, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Well we know who the Supreme Court is going to side with; afterall, companies, foreign or domestic, are U.S. citizens accordig to those old fools.

Posted by: davidlhanegraaf | June 8, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

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