A Government Thumb on the Election Scale?
On June 8, 2010, at the height of campaign season, the U.S. Supreme Court took the extraordinary step of stopping Arizona's Clean Elections system from paying campaign subsidies to publicly-financed candidates when their privately-financed opponents and independent expenditure committees raised and spent campaign money to be used against them. The Court took this dramatic action because Arizona's system appears to threaten the core First Amendment principle that the government must not be allowed to meddle in the open marketplace of ideas to favor one candidate over another. But that was only round one. In the wake of Davis v. FEC (2008), the Court has now consolidated two challenges brought against the matching-funds provision of Clean Elections and will hear arguments on March 28, 2011. If the Court were to reverse course and allow Arizona's system to stand, it could lay the groundwork for the government to lavish millions of dollars on the political opponents of those deemed too wealthy or influential. Please join us for a discussion about the future and wider implications of taxpayer-funded political campaigns.