Wednesday, April 2, 2014

NO COINCIDENCE: Arizona Supreme Court Explains Decision Permitting Higher Campaign Contribution Limits Today; Same Day As U.S. Supreme Court Takes Similar Step (GUEST ANALYSIS)

(This guest analysis was contributed - with no aggregate limits - by Phoenix attorney Paul Weich;  links added by Arizona's Politics.)

It IS a coincidence that the Arizona Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court are issuing (issued) opinions today on campaign contribution limits.  It is NOT a coincidence that both Courts' decisions are loosening and/or eliminating limits on the amounts that individuals and PACs can contribute to candidates.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission at 10am, Eastern Time.  It struck down one of the building blocks of modern campaign finance law - the aggregate limit on how much an individual can contribute to all federal candidates in a two-year period.

At 10am, Arizona Time, the Arizona Supreme Court explains why it already allowed a law passed last year by the Arizona Legislature - and, signed by Governor Jan Brewer - to go into effect, dramatically increasing campaign contribution limits.... and eliminating aggregate limits for individuals.

The Arizona Supreme Court's opinion is primarily based on the interplay between the voter-passed Voter Protection Act and the Clean Elections Act (both passed in 1998).  (The Legislature increased the contribution limits in 2013 in a statute referred to in the Clean Elections Act.)

The McCutcheon case and the Legislature's votes last year both arise out of growing sentiment that the limits put into place by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 ("FECA") - then adapted by most states and blessed by the U.S. Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 - unconstitutionally restrict speech.  The current U.S. Supreme Court blessed this in the Citizens United case (2010), and proponents initiated multiple steps and cases to further that view.

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