The United States Supreme Court decided, 5-4, against Arizona’s “clean elections” law. In two challenges to the law, Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett and McComish v. Bennett, the Court ruled for freedom and against a bizarrely unfair form of “fairness.”
The idea behind Arizona’s law was to make money somehow “not count” by “leveling the playing field.” Arizona did this by giving taxpayer money to “clean elections candidates” to equal the voluntary donations obtained by privately funded competitors.
Chief Justice Roberts says the scheme goes “goes too far.” I would say: Way too far.
Roberts nicely argues that though “‘Leveling the playing field’ can sound like a good thing . . . in a democracy, campaigning for office is not a game. It is a critically important form of speech. The First Amendment embodies our choice as a Nation that, when it comes to such speech, the guiding principle is freedom — the ‘unfettered interchange of ideas’ — not whatever the State may view as fair.”
Now, I see why people don’t like the ugliness and “unfairness” inherent in “winner-takes-all” zero-sum contests like political campaigns. But the solution isn’t to hand public money to some favored candidates, effectively putting a finger on the scales. Instead, provide the public with greater choices, and let the people freely decide.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.