Arizona has an interesting way of promoting the political career of government-dependent politicians. Arizona law puts politicians on the dole even before they are elected. Now, I ask you, how can We the People expect politicians on the dole to government to look out for our interests in keeping the power-lusting governments off our backs? The answer, of course, is that such politicians are guaranteed to be bought and paid for big government supporters. The Arizona "Clean Elections" Act is the mechanism for buying big government politicians and putting them in office. The bias in favor of government doing what it most wants to do, which is to gain more and more control of the People's lives, is huge.
The Institute for Justice has challenged this Arizona interference in elections on the basis of its interference with our freedom of speech in a case called Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to hear the Institute for Justice's challenge of this law on Tuesday, 23 November. The Institute for Justice is also representing the Arizona Taxpayers Action Committee, Arizona State Treasurer Dean Martin, and State Representative Rick Murphy.
The Arizona government subsidizes those candidates for office who elect to take a subsidy. For every dollar an independent candidate brings in, the subsidized candidate is given an equal amount of money. The candidate on the dole does not have to do any work to acquire donations from those who believe so strongly in his principles that they will donate their own money to the candidate. The candidate on the dole is then free to be a perfect demagogue and has no need to be persuasive enough to get people who will carefully consider his viewpoints before giving him campaign donations to actually do so. Those who part with their money often think about why they are doing so before acting. Those same Arizonans who favor an independent candidate are then forced to subsidize the candidate whose views they may abhor. This is not just an abridgment of the freedom of speech, but it is an inversion of speech. If you believe one thing, you are actually forced to say you believe the opposite!
Fortunately, in January 2010, a federal district court ruling struck down the matching funds in elections as a violation of freedom of speech. But, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the order of the initial federal district court ruling. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court took the unusual action of reinstating the initial court ruling which had prevented Arizona from matching funds. As a result, the 2010 elections in Arizona were not sullied by this big government attempt to bias the selection of politicians in its favor by effectively limiting the freedom of speech of the People of Arizona.
Bill Mauer, an Institute for Justice attorney, said
Matching funds violate the First Amendment rights of candidates, citizens and independent groups. The government may not give an electoral advantage to one candidate by ‘leveling’ the speech of his opponents. The system is set up to punish those the government believes are speaking too much, while subsidizing those it believes are speaking too little. In a free society, the government has no business micromanaging how citizens debate, of all things, who should run the government.Having been so serious for so long, you deserve a break. The Institute for Justice has a fun cartoon video summarizing their viewpoint on the effects of the Arizona "Clean Elections" Act.
The Institute for Justice has been very effective in protecting our freedom of speech in other cases involving election laws in a number of states. Most recently, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a Colorado law that forced six neighbors opposing a ballot issue to register with the state government and comply with very complex campaign election finance laws. In this case, Sampson v. Buescher, Judge Harris Hartz wrote for the unanimous court that the campaign finance disclosure requirements were too complex for most citizens and simply prevented them from speaking out on political issues.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the federal government could not restrict how much individuals gave to SpeechNow.org or other similar groups in another Institute for Justice case. That victory was marred by the ruling that the group did have to abide by the difficult rules of operating a political committee, despite the Supreme Court having ruled in Citizens United that corporations did not have to do so. Go figure. The Institute for Justice has also won victories in Florida where its very broad "electioneering communications" law was ruled unconstitutional and in Washington where the state tried to regulate talk radio commentary on a ballot issue.
Not only is the Institute for Justice very effective in winning vital cases to protect our freedoms, but it does it very cost efficiently. It has won the highest 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for the 9th year in a row. Please consider fighting for your freedoms by making a donation to the Institute for Justice.