Gavel Grab

Public Finance Ruling: Advocacy Groups React

Advocates of strong campaign finance reform predicted that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett, public financing systems that meet constitutional standards still can thrive.

“The reform movement to create new public financing systems nationally and at the state and local level will go forward without interruption,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21.”

“Public financing remains Constitutionally strong,” said Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice, which helped defend the Arizona law before the high court.

Waldman  said ”such systems can exist and thrive without the kinds of triggers in the Arizona law.” The high court on Monday declared unconstitutional in Arizona Free Enterprise Club what is called the “trigger funds” mechanism in Arizona’s law (see Gavel Grab).

Tara Malloy, Campaign Legal Center associate counsel, said that “the silver lining to the Supreme Court’s decision is that it invalidates only one model of public financing and leaves open other avenues for reform.  Citizens and legislators will simply have to work harder in the design of public financing programs to ensure that they clear the new constitutional hurdles created by the Roberts Court.”Applauding the opinion was the Goldwater Institute, which represented plaintiffs in the case.

“This decision protects democratic elections and gets government’s heavy thumb off the scale,” said Nick Dranias of the Goldwater Institute, the lead attorney in the case.

“This latest ruling by the Court is one more nail in the coffin of so-called ‘reformers’ efforts to have government-managed political speech, something wholly contrary to the First Amendment,” said Sean Parnell of the Center for Competitive Politics.

The Campaign Legal Center is a JAS partner on campaign reform issues, and the Brennan Center is a JAS partner. (Gavel Grab thanks Election Law blog for many of these links.)

Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett was consolidated with another case, McComish v. Bennett.

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