Whoo freedom!

27 Jun 2011 11:11 pm
Posted by: Donna

The Supreme Court struck down Arizona’s Clean Elections matching funds today in a 5-4 decision. It was a move that surprised no one and the news for supporters of public campaign finance wasn’t entirely bad since the court upheld the Constitutionality of the program itself. Still, the haves and have mores in Arizona were elated.

Supreme Court matching funds decision a victory for free speech
June 27, 2011
Glenn Hamer

Today is a great day for the First Amendment.

On a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the matching funds portion of Arizona’s publicly funded elections scheme.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Arizona’s matching funds scheme substantially burdens political speech and is not sufficiently justified by a compelling interest to survive First Amendment scrutiny.”

The matching funds element of the law was always the most offensive to champions of free speech and of robust, competitive elections. We will not mourn its passing.

Under the matching funds system, publicly funded candidates received a dollar for every dollar their traditionally funded opponent spent over a set monetary cap.

The proponents for publicly funded elections claimed matching funds leveled the playing field. But what matching funds really did was tell traditionally funded candidates, their donors and independent expenditure groups to hit the mute button.

Regarding matching funds’ effect on independent expenditures, the majority writes, “In some ways, the burdens imposed on independent groups by matching funds are more severe than the burdens imposed on privately financed candidates. “

The Court goes on to say, “As a result, those groups can only avoid matching funds by changing their message or choosing not to speak altogether. Presenting independent expenditure groups with such a choice – trigger matching funds, change your message, or do not speak – makes the matching funds provision particularly burdensome to those groups and certainly contravenes the ‘fundamental rule of protection under the First Amendment, that a speaker has the autonomy to choose the content of his own message.’”

Publicly funded elections are a bad idea, but the matching funds provision made the system even worse. The death of matching funds is the canary in the coal mine for the whole publicly funded elections scheme, as I’m confident voters in November 2012 will choose to ban the use of public funds for political campaigns entirely.


It was indeed a great day for the free speech rights of rich people. It was also a great day for certain parties keenly interested in curtailing the freedom of non-rich persons in Arizona.

The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them. Legislation has been proposed in numerous jurisdictions that could lower minimum sentences for some non-violent crimes and make more inmates eligible for early release based on good behavior. Also, sentencing alternatives under consideration could put some offenders on probation with electronic monitoring who would otherwise be incarcerated. Similarly, reductions in crime rates or resources dedicated to prevent and enforce
crime could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences requiring incarceration at correctional facilities.


That’s from a Justice Policy Institute report called Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies. The authors explain how private prisons wield massive influence in public policy.

For-profit private prison companies primarily use three strategies to influence policy: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and building relationships, networks, and associations.

Over the years, these political strategies have allowed private prison companies to promote policies that lead to higher rates of
incarceration and thus greater profit margins for their company. In particular, private prison companies have had either influence over or helped to draft model legislation such as “three-strikes” and “truth-in-sentencing” laws, both of which have driven up incarceration rates and ultimately created more opportunities for private prison companies to bid on contracts to increase revenues. The recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. FEC further facilitates this influence by allowing corporations to engage freely in paid political speech such as television and radio ads and programs.

You can see now why it’s imperative to keep elections out of the hands of the peons. It’s not like they’re going to march off willingly to their incarcerations. True liberty demands that the private prison industry be unimpeded in their quest to lock up as many little people as they can. Why do you hate freedom?

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by Michael Powers on June 30, 2011 5:32 am

    Years ago, politicians thought, “Gee, we’d like to send folks to prison, but we sure don’t wanna pay for it.” Welcome to the slippery slope. Society must necessarily bear a burden when taking a man’s freedom. Once a profit motive becomes associated with the loss of liberty, then no one is safe. If it costs nothing to imprison a man, then freedom itself becomes worthless.

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