No Public Money for Arizona Candidates

In a second major ruling Monday, U.S. Supreme Court justices split along ideological lines to reject an Arizona campaign finance law that offered public funding to candidates unable to raise the enormous sums of money needed to run for political office.

In Chief Justice John Roberts’ personal and bizarre parallel universe, the law inhibited “robust and wide-open political debate,” a remark that no doubt pleased the conservative plaintiffs who complained that the use of public money negated their private fundraising efforts. An appeals court had previously upheld the Arizona law, stating that none of the accusers could cite a spending or fundraising decision made in fear of triggering the release of an opponent’s matching funds.

After the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling 17 months ago, Monday’s decision is a familiar endorsement of the idea that spending money is the equivalent of free speech, that corporate “citizens” are entitled to bigger megaphones and more time at the podium than the living, breathing kind, and that the have-nots may not play with the haves. –ARK

The Wall Street Journal:

Arizona said its public-financing system promoted free speech by giving candidates the opportunity to run for office without depending on private political donors. But the law’s challengers — five conservative politicians and two political action committees — said the law stifled free speech. They argued that, when they raised and spent money to promote their messages, their speech was punished because it triggered government subsidies to their rivals.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority agreed with the challengers in a 5-4 ruling.

… “Laws like Arizona’s … that inhibit robust and wide-open political debate without sufficient justification cannot stand,” he [Chief Justice John Roberts] wrote, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

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