U.S. Supreme Court declines identical case to Arizona campaign finance case

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

It would appear the U.S. Supreme Court begs to differ with U.S. District Court Judge James Teilborg's ruling in an Arizona campaign finance case. Portion of campaign finance law overturned:

In 2011, Galassini sent an e-mail to 23 Fountain Hills residents
making them aware of the road-bond proposal, asking them to write
letters to a local newspaper and naming two street-corner protests where
recipients were encouraged to show up with signs to make passers-by
aware of their opposition.

Galassini then received a letter from Town Clerk Bev Bender saying
Galassini needed to file a statement of organization in the Town Clerk’s
Office before any electioneering takes place “if any additional person
or persons join the effort.” After receiving the letter, Galassini told
Bender she would stop all e-mails and not hold a rally.

Galassini asked the court to declare unconstitutional the portion of
state campaign-finance law that requires groups that speak about ballot
issues and accept or expend less than $500 to file as political
committees.

In his order, [U.S. District Court Judge James] Teilborg said the definition of political committee is
“overbroad because it sweeps in a substantial amount of protected speech
that the state does not have an important interest in regulating.”

He also said it’s “difficult to believe that any person that received
Ms. Galassini’s e-mail and attended the November protest of the bond
election would know that, by attending, they were becoming a member of a
‘political committee,’ and were, thus, subject to the regulations and
penalties governing the conduct of political committees.”

“Once realizing that they would become a member of a political
committee by attending the rally, there is little doubt that such person
would decide it safer to remain silent than to risk the penalties of a
complex regulatory scheme,” Teilborg said.

* * *

Paul Avelar, a staff attorney for the Institute for Justice’s Arizona chapter, called the order a “final victory” for Galassini.

A nearly identical claim was made by a plaintiff represented by the Institute for Justice in Florida that has worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Smallest political donors appeal Florida’s restrictions to Supreme Court:

A Florida group has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in a challenge to the state’s campaign finance restrictions that force groups looking to spend even tiny amounts of money on political radio advertising to form a political action committee.

The plaintiffs, who are suing the Florida secretary of state over the provision, said the rules impose a “chilling effect” on their right to free speech. Their suit was rejected by the 11th Circuit Court in June.

If the regulations are struck down by the court, state residents could raise and contribute money for campaign advertising without facing the reporting restrictions — including registering with the state, selecting a treasurer and submitting to random audits — demanded of PACs. The Supreme Court is expected to announce whether it will accept the case early next month.

“The people shouldn’t have to hire attorneys and accountants and experts to speak out on issues of the day,” said Allen Dickerson, legal director for the Center for Competitive Politics, which last week joined with the libertarian Cato Institute in a “friend of the court” brief urging the Supreme Court justices to accept the case.

“If true grass-roots actors want to be able to discuss issues in their community, they are going to be treated like a large entity even though they don’t have those resources,” Mr. Dickerson argued.

On Monday, the U.S. Surpeme court declined to hear this appeal from the 11th Circuit. Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to Fla. political donor law:

A Florida political activist is out of luck after the Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear his challenge to a state law that prohibited groups from donating small amounts of money without first forming a political action committee.

The high court has struck down a number of campaign giving restrictions and regulations in recent years, but its decision not to hear the case from plaintiff Andrew Worley means that the 11th Circuit Court’s decision in the case will stand and the Florida restrictions will remain in place.

Both a district judge in Tallahassee and a federal appeals court rejected the challenge, and the Supreme Court's refusal to intervene means their decision stands.

In an illustrative example of how the intricate web of "Kochtopus" think tanks and 501(c) organizations work together to undermine campaign finance laws across the country, there is this passage from the above report:

“It is definitely a disappointment, but the fight is not over. There are other courts looking at these issues in similar cases and eventually the Supreme Court will have to take them up,” said Institute for Justice senior attorney Paul Sherman. Mr. Sherman, who was the lead attorney on the case, cited cases in Arizona and Mississippi, where the plaintiffs have won and the states have said they will appeal. He noted that the Supreme Court, which does not disclose typically why it is not hearing an individual case, may have decided not to hear Worley v. Florida Secretary of State while waiting for those other cases will play out.

* * *

The decision was a pleasant surprise for campaign finance law supporters.

“I’m surprised they didn’t take it up, but I’m happy that they didn’t,” said Peter Butzin,
volunteer chairman of Common Cause Florida. He said he feared that the
case would have opened up the floodgates for continued gutting of
campaign finance laws, which, he said, “this court has shown a
propensity to do.”

So who is the Institute for Justice? Another tentacle of the "Kochtopus." Source Watch profile: Institute for Justice:

Founded in 1991 by Chip Mellor and Clint Bolick, the Institute for Justice is a US libertarian public interest law firm. John Blundell was also a founder director.

* * *

The Institute offered two amicus briefs in the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case in favor of Citizens United.

* * *

One of the target of the Institute is campaign finance reform. The Arizona chapter has filed a lawsuit challenging the "Clean Elections Act".

* * *

The initial funding for the Institute came from the Koch Family Foundations, which also fund the libertarian Cato Institute and Citizens for a Sound Economy. Charles and David Koch were named "Cornerstone Supporters" in 2001.

Other notable funders include the Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation, which funds religious right groups and advocates school choice the conservative Sarah Mellon Scaife Foundation, the school privatization-supporting Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation, which also backs charter schools and vouchers. A complete list of funders can be found at the Media Matters Action Network Conservative Transparency website.

Source Watch profile: Goldwater Institute: Clint Bolick is also the Vice President of Litigation for the Goldwater Institute, another "Kochtopus" tentacle.

(Clint Bolick is also the coauthor of former Florida governor Jeb Bush's book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution: Jeb Bush, Clint Bolick.)

The attorneys in the Arizona case should take note of the 11th Circuit Court ruling (precedent) and the U.S. Supreme Court denial of review, and file a motion for reconsideration.

One response to “U.S. Supreme Court declines identical case to Arizona campaign finance case

  1. Excellent catch! Thanks, AZBM!