Since the 1970s, Arizona has appointed judges to the state Supreme Court based upon a merit selection system. An independent body of citizen-appointees recruit, interview, evaluate and select candidates for these higher courts and forward that slate of candidates to the Governor when a vacancy occurs.
This system is often lauded by both sides of the aisle because it ensures a much higher quality bench, keeps judges separate from the influence of politics, and limits the amount of money in judicial retention/rejection elections.
But some groups quickly abandon these tenets as soon as they receive a ruling they simply don’t like.
In August, the Arizona Supreme Court issued separate rulings that barred two propositions from the November ballot. The court concluded that Prop 207/Invest in Ed created “a significant danger of confusion or unfairness” by not accurately describing the increased tax burden on affected classes of taxpayers as well as failing to reference the elimination of the bracket inflation indexing. The Outlaw Dirty Money initiative simply lacked enough signatures to qualify.
Following the rulings, a group of angry activists came together to call for a rejection of two Justices whose terms are up for retention on the ballot: Justice Clint Bolick and Justice John Pelander.
Since their appointments, both Justice Bolick and Pelander have been fair-minded judges that have demonstrated a strong commitment to upholding and protecting the Arizona constitution. They have even reached decisions that have displeased both sides of the political aisle. One example of their independent streak occurred in 2017 when a coalition from the business community–led by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce–sued over the constitutionality of Proposition 206, the minimum wage law. Both Bolick and Pelander ruled against the plaintiffs, a decision that was cheered by many of the same liberal groups now seeking their ouster.
The importance of protecting the impartiality of the judicial branch cannot be understated. The good news is that both Justice Bolick and Pelander have proven to be unafraid to honor their duties to uphold the constitution and strictly interpret the law as written – despite whatever the political backlash may be. And given the partisan political campaign now being waged against them, it is all the more reason why Arizonans should vote to retain Bolick and Pelander.
If more evidence was needed to support the idea of donor privacy and anonymous speech in elections, the reaction by the left against the ‘Invest in Ed’ and ‘Outlaw Dirty Money’ court rulings should settle it.
It’s been two weeks since the Arizona Supreme Court barred both ballot measures from appearing on the ballot, and the backers of both measures are now waging a campaign to target and harass anyone that supported the legal challenge.
Angry activists and various labor unions began a coordinated effort to protest outside of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and any other private group that participated in exposing the legal flaws and signature issues with both measures. Appropriately named “Fightbacknews” chronicles on their website how these protests were designed to go after not just the private non-profit entities, but to “out” every business or individual that dared to oppose their agenda.
Social media groups supportive of Invest in Ed and Outlaw Dirty Money have been openly discussing strategies to expand their intimidation campaign, both now and in the future. And since the issues they are championing—education funding and donor disclosure—are generally supported by the establishment/liberal media, news outlets have ignored the deployment of these thug tactics to target political free speech. This is especially ironic, since anonymous speech has been the cornerstone of almost all reporting (and even entire books) by the mainstream media since Donald Trump became president.
None of this is really new. Efforts to target people for their political beliefs has intensified in recent years, often with an assist from government officials and politicians. Mozilla CEO Brandon Eich was forced to resign after furious attacks against him for his support of Prop 8 defining marriage between one man and one woman. Prosecutors in Wisconsin launched a corrupt investigation targeting conservative donors that was finally shut down by the Supreme Court last year. And no one should forget the IRS targeting of conservative groups that finally ended with a large payout to victims and an apology from the agency.
That is what makes efforts such as Outlaw Dirty Money so dangerous. Private citizens should have a right to support causes and issues they believe in without fear of harassment, intimidation or retaliation. Donor privacy is crucial to free speech, and is essential to promoting open dialogue on critical issues. If government or angry social media mobs are allowed to dictate the terms of “debate”, it will lead to far worse outcomes than not knowing the identify of a donor to an organization with whom you might disagree.
Rather than looking to target individuals or businesses engaging in political speech, a better approach would be to encourage more speech and let voters make decisions for themselves. Since corporate and individual political spending is evenly split between the two parties, it’s not as if either side has an unfair advantage. Let’s look to promote our 1st Amendment rights, not target people who try to exercise it.
Currently, politicians can receive taxpayer funding for their political campaigns through a program operated at the Clean Elections Commission.
Last election cycle it was discovered that politicians financing their campaigns with public funding quietly channeling those funds to political parties instead of spending the money on their campaigns. In 2016, over $100,000 was funneled to the state Democrat Party by candidates throughout the state!
Instead of fixing the problem, the Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) passed a rule codifying the abuse! Even worse, they expanded the rule to allow publicly financed candidates to give their money away to political special interest groups like labor unions, the NRA or the Sierra Club.
If Prop 306 is approved, it would:
- Prohibit candidates that finance their campaign with taxpayer money from giving any of those funds to political parties
- Prohibit taxpayer money going to political special interest groups that attempt to influence elections
- Increase transparency and accountability by requiring the Clean Elections Commission to follow the same rulemaking process as every other state agency
Since the CCEC has embraced the idea of public funding for political parties and special interest groups, we urge voters to vote YES on Prop 306
What is Prop 306?