PHOENIX - Today, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals barred the matching funds provisions of Connecticut's version of government funding for political candidates. The unanimous opinion mirrors the Goldwater Institute's arguments in a federal lawsuit that prompted the U.S. Supreme Court to block Arizona's matching funds provision on June 8, 2010.
"The First Amendment requires matching funds to be struck down," said Nick Dranias, Goldwater Institute director of constitutional studies and lead attorney in the lawsuit against Arizona's matching funds provision. "Political speech by one candidate cannot be silenced by the threat of government campaign subsidies to the opposing candidate."
A three-judge panel for the Second Circuit declared that Connecticut's matching funds "imposes a substantial burden on the exercise of the First Amendment right to use personal funds for campaign speech."
The Second Circuit joined U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn O. Silver of Phoenix in recognizing that matching funds punish privately-funded candidates and their supporters by causing their campaign donations and spending to trigger tax subsidies for their opposing publicly-funded candidates.
The Second Circuit's decision also specifically observes, "[t]he Ninth Circuit has recently upheld a 'matching funds' provision of Arizona's public financing system . . . We are not persuaded by the Ninth Circuit's opinion, which, we note, has been stayed by the Supreme Court pending [an appeal]."
The Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation represents John McComish, Nancy McClain and Tony Bouie, candidates for the Arizona Legislature whose campaigns are funded by private donations. They are appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a trial court decision in January 2010 against the matching funds component of the Clean Elections system.
The Goldwater Institute will host a telephone town hall tonight at 7:00 p.m. Arizona time to discuss its lawsuit and other issues involving government funding for election candidates. To join the town hall call (888) 886-6603 and enter event ID 15128.
Read more about this and other Goldwater lawsuits to protect individual rights and keep government within its constitutional limits at www.goldwaterinstitute.org/litigation. The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog supported by people who are committed to expanding free enterprise and liberty.