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Antonin Scalia on Government Reform

Supreme Court Justice (nominated by Pres. Reagan 1986)


Key to 2000 Bush v. Gore: don't count new discoveries

Gore's counsel in Bush v. Gore, David Boies, had admitted the Florida legislature could not do what the Florida Supreme Court had done. Didn't that means the Florida court created new law? Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, for her part, sounded reproachful. She said, "I did not find really a response by the Florida Supreme Court to this court's remand" of Dec. 4. In other words, the Florida Supreme Court had simply ignored her bench's not-so-subtle directive to provide a cogent rationale for its Nov. 21 decision. The Florida Supreme Court had deliberately told the US Supreme Court to take a hike. Boies had no good answer. Scalia came in behind O'Connor, castigating the Florida court for counting 383 newly discovered Palm Beach County and Broward County ballots after being told not to do so by the US Supreme Court.
Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.214 , Nov 2, 2010

For states’ rights; limit court role

The nine court members can be divided into three general alliances, but all of the justices have crossed ideological lines. The three conservative justices, including Scalia, and two of the swing justices usually support states’ rights.

Scalia interprets the Constitution literally and is a strong states’ rights advocate. Favors limited role for courts in the three-branch system of government.

Source: Reuters article in Boston Globe, p. A45 , Dec 1, 2000

Public campaign finance can't be based on opponent spending.

Justice Scalia joined the Court's decision on AZ FREEDOM CLUB PAC v. BENNETT on Jun 27, 2011:

An Arizona public campaign financing law allowed a person who agreed to the restrictions of a publicly financed campaign to receive an initial allotment from the state. That initial allotment was increased when the spending of a privately financed opponent together with the spending of any independent group exceeded that initial allotment. The public funds to match opponent expenditures topped out at two times the initial allotment.

HELD: Delivered by Roberts; joined by Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas & Alito

Arizona's public financing law places a burden on privately financed candidates. If privately financed candidates spend money above a certain level, they necessarily entitle their publicly financed opponents to greater funding. Their First Amendment right to free speech in a political matter--which includes spending money on their campaigns--is inhibited. Independent groups do not qualify for public financing at all, but their spending still may lead to a funding increase for the candidates the independent groups oppose. Leveling the playing is not a compelling state interest justifying a burden on a First Amendment right, nor is combating corruption. Arizona would be free to give the maximum amount to all public candidates, but that does not justify inhibiting the free speech of candidates and independent groups.

DISSENT: Kagan dissents; joined by Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor

The First Amendment's core purpose is to foster a political system full of robust discussion and debate. Arizona's public campaign finance did not restrict speech, it increased speech through public subsidy with the goal of decreasing the corruption of both quid pro quo campaign payments made in exchange for official acts or an office seeker feeling beholden to his great financial supporters. Any burden on free speech, the burden could hardly be more substantial than what the Court announces would be legal: a larger, up-front allotment to a public candida
Source: Supreme Court case 11-AZ-PAC argued on Mar 28, 2011

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Other Justices on Government Reform: Antonin Scalia on other issues:
Samuel Alito
Stephen Breyer
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Elena Kagan
Anthony Kennedy
John Roberts
Antonin Scalia
Sonia Sotomayor
Clarence Thomas

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Sandra Day O'Connor
William Rehnquist
John Paul Stevens

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Page last updated: Mar 08, 2014