Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

It’s The Coporations’ World, We Just Live In It

with 2 comments

The Supreme Court has tossed out an Arizona law that provides extra taxpayer-funded support for office seekers who have been outspent by privately funded opponents or by independent political groups.

A conservative 5-4 majority of justices on Monday said the law violated free speech, concluding the state was impermissibly trying to “level the playing field” through a public finance system.

Here’s the full decision.

All my political fantasies today revolve around packing the Court; of course you’d have to retake the House and nuclear-option the Senate first, and also have a Democratic Party worth a damn.

UPDATE: Commentary from Lawyers, Guns, and Money, including this gem from Elena Kagan’s dissent:

This suit, in fact, may merit less attention than any challenge to a speech subsidy ever seen in this Court. In the usual First Amendment subsidy case, a person complains that the government declined to finance his speech, while bankrolling someone else’s; we must then decide whether the government differentiated between these speakers on a prohibited basis—because it preferred one speaker’s ideas to another’s. But the candidates bringing this challenge do not make that claim—because they were never denied a subsidy. Arizona, remember, offers to support any person running for state office. Petitioners here refused that assistance. So they are making a novel argument: that Arizona violated their First Amendment rights by disbursing funds to other speakers even though they could have received (but chose to spurn) the same financial assistance. Some people might call that chutzpah.

Indeed, what petitioners demand is essentially a right to quash others’ speech through the prohibition of a (universally available) subsidy program. Petitioners are able to convey their ideas without public financing—and they would prefer the field to themselves, so that they can speak free from response. To attain that goal, they ask this Court to prevent Arizona from funding electoral speech—even though that assistance is offered to every state candidate, on the same (entirely unobjectionable) basis. And this Court gladly obliges.

2 Responses

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  1. Because, of course, leveling the playing field would unnecessarily disadvantage the multi-millionaire candidates. Actually, this decision doesn’t surprise me nearly as much as the fact that the negated law was from Arizona – not exactly a liberal hotbed.


    June 27, 2011 at 12:36 pm

  2. […] SCOTUS yields yet another 5-4 conservative ruling, this time taking the definition of “free speech” and twisting it into a corporate […]


    June 27, 2011 at 3:07 pm

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