National media gave extensive coverage to Supreme Court arguments in a case challenging Arizona’s law for public financing of campaigns, and most pointed toward the same conclusion.
Judging from comments by justices, it appears almost inevitable that the five justices who made up the majority in last year’s landmark Citizens United ruling on campaign finance will strike down a key provision of Arizona’s law, according to these reports.
Under the provision, publicly funded candidates get additional dollars, called matching or “trigger funds,” when privately financed candidates or independent groups spend more.
“The likely result in the Arizona case…will be an incremental step and the fifth decision from the Roberts court cutting back on the government’s ability to regulate campaign financing,” suggested reporter Adam Liptak in the New York Times.
A USA Today article offered a similar analysis and the following assessment:
“Such a decision would not outright void state public financing systems. But it would undercut one of the incentives some states employ to entice candidates to use public financing and forgo large private contributions that might lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption.”
Justice at Stake has warned in an amicus brief that an adverse ruling could gravely threaten fair courts, due to the “deluge of special interest money [that] is eroding public trust in America’s courts” and the strong promise for public financing as a viable reform. Four states have adopted public financing for judicial elections with laws that use a provision like Arizona’s. (more…)