November 29, 2010 •
US Supreme Court to Determine Constitutionality of Arizona’s Clean Elections Campaign Finance Law
The United States Supreme Court will again review Arizona’s attempt to level the playing field for political candidates, agreeing to determine the constitutionality of Arizona’s law to distribute campaign subsidies to publicly funded candidates who face big-spending opponents.
In June, the Supreme Court blocked a portion of Arizona’s Clean Elections program, which authorized the state to provide “matching funds” to those candidates who face opponents spending large amounts of their own money or outside groups that target them. The court combined two cases, Arizona Free Enterprise, et al v. Bennett and McComish v. Bennett, and will hear arguments in the spring of 2011.
Picture of the U.S. Supreme Court by UpstateNYer on Wikipedia.
November 2, 2010 •
Compliance Reporting Still Required Even With Unlimited Contributions
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal seeking to eliminate a political committee’s disclosure and administrative requirements. In SpeechNow.org v FEC, the appellants had argued the requirements violate the First Amendment.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found individual contribution limits to the committee unconstitutional. It additionally held independent expenditure–only groups like SpeechNow must still comply with organizational, administrative, and reporting requirements in the law.
SpeechNow is an unincorporated nonprofit association which supports candidates for federal office who share its views on First Amendment rights of free speech and freedom to assemble.
October 26, 2010 •
On Friday, October 22, 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States denied an application for an emergency writ of injunction in the pending case of Respect Maine PAC v. McKee.
In their application, the plaintiffs, represented by James Bopp, Jr., the Indiana attorney who helped launch the landmark Citizens United v. FEC litigation, requested an order blocking portions of Maine’s campaign finance law which provides matching for candidates as well as the part of Maine law capping contributions to gubernatorial candidates at $750. By the time the plaintiff’s motion reached the high court for the second time, it had been denied three times: by Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Circuit Justice for the First Circuit, by the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and by the Maine District Court where the litigation originated.
The plaintiff’s last resort to enjoin the law prior to the November 2nd election was the emergency writ of injunction to the Supreme Court which was presented to Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy who then referred it to the Supreme Court for consideration. The writ’s denial was not unexpected as the Supreme Court has not granted such a motion for two decades.
Photo of the Supreme Court by UpstateNYer on Wikipedia.
October 13, 2010 •
PACs will continue to be allowed to receive unlimited contributions for independent expenditures.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the city’s appeal of a lawsuit brought by the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce over the city’s campaign finance rules involving independent expenditures.
Long Beach appealed to the high court after the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling stating the Chamber’s PAC may receive unlimited contributions to fund their independent campaign expenditures in city elections.
Photo of Long Beach by WPPilot on Wikipedia.
August 12, 2010 •
Virtual tours, audio tapes, and shooting hoops at the Supreme Court.
I found another Web site where you can easily get lost reading for hours. Get a coffee and some cookies and head to the Oyez Project.
The Oyez Project describes itself as a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work.
Oyez.org has taken on the ongoing task of digitally hosting the audio recordings from the court. Recordings began in 1955. Many of the recordings previously were tucked away as reel-to-reel tapes in the National Archive. The Oyez Project is working to allow visitors the chance to listen to the recordings online.
You can find a thorough archive of Supreme Court cases ranging from Chisholm v. Georgia in 1793, all the way to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and more recent cases, too. They have a tag cloud so you can browse cases by topic, or you can find cases by the year.
I think the most fun feature of the Oyez Project is the virtual tour of the Supreme Court. From your computer, you can walk up the steps to the bronze doors at the entrance, and then go into the Great Hall, the courtroom, and even the Justice’s chambers! (Justice Ginsburg has a teddy bear on her side table and Justice Breyer has quite a book collection.)
If you have a fast internet connection, each room only takes a moment to load. The images are high resolution and beautiful. Just don’t move your mouse too fast, or you will get dizzy making the room spin around. Yes, I tried it.
What is not on the virtual tour, however, is a different “Highest Court in the Land.” Did you know there is a gym on the top floor of the Supreme Court building that houses a basketball court where justices, clerks, and assorted other players can shoot hoops? Our Research Associate David Dobo alerted me to this great secret.
Be sure not to play while court is in session, though, because that is prohibited!
Here is a fun read from the Los Angeles Times about the basketball court:
“Legal Eagles Tip Off in ‘Highest Court in the Land,” by Gina Holland, Associated Press.
Photo of the sign courtesy of Sharada Jambulapati.
June 30, 2010 •
News from the Supreme Court ruling.
The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed without comment a lower court ruling upholding a ban on soft-money contributions to political parties.
From The Hill – “Supreme Court affirms ban on soft money,” by Russell Berman 6-29-2010
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