Renée Loth

July 9, 2011

The Boston Globe

THE INFLUENCE of money in politics was back in the news last week, when the US Supreme Court struck down parts of an Arizona campaign-finance law that tried to level a playing field made impossibly steep for candidates who don’t enjoy private fortunes or corporate largesse. The Court, like Congress, has abandoned ordinary Americans who are being drowned out by the oceans of cash washing through the political system. They may have no choice but to try amending the Constitution next.

Arizona’s public-financing law seemed to have everything going for it: participation was voluntary; it was enacted overwhelmingly by the people in a public referendum; it was popular with politicians of both parties; it was aimed at combating corruption – a “compelling interest’’ allowed in earlier Supreme Court decisions on campaign spending.

Still, the court ruled 5-4 against the law, which awarded candidates who agreed to limit their spending with matching funds if an opponent exceeded an established spending cap. Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the opinion, reasoned that candidates with access to lots of campaign cash might limit their own spending to avoid triggering matching funds for the other guy. And since this court (like others before it) has established that money equals speech, that would unconstitutionally gag the wealthier party in the race.

Read the entire article, HERE.