by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Daren weighed in on this topic here.
Here’s additional commentary:
RALEIGH — North Carolina’s General Assembly should repeal its unconstitutional taxpayer-financed campaign system in the wake of a new ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. The John Locke Foundation’s top legal expert reaches that conclusion after reviewing the high court’s decision.
In an Arizona case, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a provision of that state’s “clean elections” law was unconstitutional.
“Specifically, the Supreme Court rejected so-called ‘matching funds,'” said Daren Bakst, JLF Director of Legal and Regulatory Studies. “Through these matching funds, privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups have their free speech unconstitutionally burdened. If they spend beyond a threshold amount of money to engage in free speech, they will be punished by triggering taxpayer dollars to help the opposing candidate.”
North Carolina’s system of taxpayer-financed elections features the same matching-funds provision, Bakst said. “These programs, often called ‘clean elections’ or ‘voter-owned elections,’ violate both the First Amendment rights of political candidates who do not want to take taxpayer dollars and the rights of organizations that are independently spending money to help candidates.”
“The implications are clear for North Carolina,” Bakst added. “The North Carolina legislature will need to repeal unconstitutional matching-fund provisions in existing law. This includes removing these provisions in the judicial taxpayer financing program, the Council of State taxpayer financing program, and a Chapel Hill municipal election taxpayer financing program.”
“Without the matching-fund provisions, the entire system falls apart,” Bakst said. “The General Assembly should get rid of the entire taxpayer-financed campaign scheme.”