a press release related to a challenge to Arizona public fin
VOLOKH at mail.law.ucla.edu
Thu Sep 9 15:52:38 PDT 1999
Institute for Justice is a very competent outfit, and quite credible
in their factual descriptions (whatever you think of their legal positions).
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Maureen Blum [SMTP:mblum at ij.org]
> Sent: Thursday, September 09, 1999 2:34 PM
> To: Maureen Blum
> Subject: Arizona Citizens Forced to Fund Political Campaigns!
> Citizens Forced to Fund Political Campaigns
> File Court Action Against Arizona's Public Funding Law
> Washington, D.C.-A group of Arizona citizens will file a federal lawsuit
> today challenging Arizona's "Citizens Clean Election Act." The lawsuit,
> which could set vital free speech precedents, seeks to end coercive
> financing of publicly funded political campaigns, and challenging
> of the Act that compel some individuals, against their will, to pay for
> political speech of others.
> "The dirty little secret underlying the so-called Clean Elections Act is
> that it forces certain citizens to subsidize politicians," said Clint
> Bolick, litigation director of the Institute for Justice, a Washington,
> D.C.-based public interest law center that represents the plaintiffs in
> action. "Coerced support of political campaigns strikes at the heart of
> First Amendment freedoms."
> Enacted by a slender majority of the Arizona electorate in 1998, the
> Act creates a public financing system for state elections accompanied by
> strict restrictions on contributions and funded in part by a state income
> tax credit for contributions.
> But hidden among the fine print are two coerced revenue sources: a
> surcharge on civil and criminal fines, including parking and speeding
> tickets, and a fee imposed on those who lobby on behalf of for-profit
> entities or trade associations, while other groups, such environmental
> groups and labor unions, are exempt from the fee. Citizens who incur such
> costs are forced to subsidize political speech, a clear violation of the
> First Amendment.
> Like many other citizens, Steve May received a parking ticket in
> June. However, he refused to pay the portion of the ticket that goes to
> finance the Clean Elections Fund. "I do not believe the State of Arizona
> can legally require me to fund political campaigns," May said. May, in
> addition to being a businessman, is himself a state representative.
> "While politicians have a constitutional right to free speech, I do not
> believe they have the right to make me pay for it," May added. "Many
> politicians in this state espouse philosophies I find objectionable and I
> will not allow my hard earned money to fund offensive political
> "At least at the federal level, individuals have a choice," said
> Scott Bullock, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, referring to
> the check-off box on federal tax forms that ask taxpayers to give a
> to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. "The drafters of Arizona's
> must have recognized that citizens do not like to spend their tax dollars
> support politicians, so they turned to coercion instead."
> At the federal level, support for the presidential election campaign
> fund is at an all-time low and funds are soon expected to run out. In
> only 12.5 percent of taxpayers agreed to contribute to the fund.
> Also singled out for coercive funding in the Arizona Citizens Clean
> Election Act are lobbyists who represent for-profit entities.
> "The lobbyist fee not only violates my free speech rights, it
> unconstitutionally discriminates against me based on the type of client I
> represent," said plaintiff Tim Lawless, who lobbies on behalf of the
> Chamber of Commerce. Lobbyists for non-profit organizations, such as
> environmental groups and the League of Women Voters, are exempt from
> the fee.
> Also joining in the suit are Rick Lavis, who represents agricultural
> interests in the state and who is subject to the lobbyist fee, and Thomas
> Rice, who recently received a parking ticket from the City of Tempe and
> objects to a portion going to incumbents or political candidates.
> The suit will be filed by the Institute for Justice, which
> represents its clients at no charge, in U.S. District Court for the
> of Arizona in Phoenix. The defendants named in the suit are Arizona's
> Secretary of State and the State Treasurer.
> The Institute for Justice is a libertarian public interest law firm.
> Through strategic litigation, training, communications, and outreach, the
> Institute for Justice advances a rule of law under which individuals can
> control their own destinies as free and responsible members of society.
> litigates to secure economic liberty, school choice, private property
> rights, freedom of speech, and other vital individual liberties, and to
> restore constitutional limits on the power of government. In addition, it
> trains law students, lawyers, and policy activists in the tactics of
> interest litigation to advance individual rights. Through these
> the Institute challenges the ideology of the welfare state and illustrates
> and extends the benefits of freedom to those whose full enjoyment of
> is denied by government. The Institute was founded in September 1991 by
> William Mellor and Clint Bolick.
> Maureen Blum
> Outreach Coordinator
> Institute for Justice
> mblum at ij.org
> (202) 955-1300/(202) 955-1329 FAX
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