Citizens' Election Program Unconstitutional

The Courant has the story.   The opinion is here in PDF format. 

Judge Stefan R. Underhill ruled that the Citizens’ Election Program is unconstitutional because it violates minor party candidates’ right to participate in the political process, laying out four compelling reasons for his decision:

  • CEP grants funds that are beyond historic expenditure levels
  • CEP strengthens major party candidates that otherwise would not have the public support or success to run for office
  • CEP regulations for a qualifying minor party candidate are impossible
  • CEP distribution formula discourages minor party candidates

This ruling creates turmoil for candidates running for office in 2010.  Former Speaker Jim Amann, for example, whose campaign is already on life support, claimed that his weak fundraising totals were because he was raising CEP-qualifying contributions.

But he won’t be the only one.  The biggest question mark of them all hangs over the head of Governor Jodi Rell.  As the Governor who signed CEP into law, she was almost certainly going to participate in the program.  What does the Governor do now?  Is the change dramatic enough to keep her from running in 2010?

Update: According to the Courant piece, AG Dick Blumenthal is on the case.  He indicated to reporters that he will seek a stay of the Judge’s decision and file an appeal.

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8 responses to “Citizens' Election Program Unconstitutional

  1. We can immediately defund SEEC 50 Million dollars and use that money to fund more necessary expenditures. 2010 politicans will have to raise their own money and not depend on taxpayers assistance.

  2. Says Dan Malloy (and I agree):

    “I am a staunch supporter of public campaign financing. The most important aspect of any such law is that it is fair to all parties involved, creating a level playing field for elections. This ruling contends that the law does not achieve that very simple goal. If that’s true, then the state needs to fix those problems so that the program achieves what our lawmakers intended when they created it. Hopefully we can do that in a timely fashion and the program will be stronger for having gone through the process.”

  3. I received and read the beginning of the judge’s ruling early last night and wrote a fairly long post with my thoughts about the ruling. I was holding off posting it because I had been hoping to receive statements by various people in the suit.

    I haven’t received them yet, so I’m putting up my initial comments and will add additional details when I get some statements.

    It is worth noting that while I do hope that the state appeals the decision and asks for an immediate stay, which I believe there are more than adequate grounds for, I also believe that the program can be improved to provide better access to minor parties.

    I should note here that my wife Kim Hynes removed herself as an intervenor-defendant in the case when she started working at Common Cause to avoid any potential conflict of interest issues. I should also note that my opinions on this are solely my opinions and not that of people involved in the suit. On the other hand, since much of Kim’s work over couple of years has been to get people to understand and participate in the Citizens’ Election Program, I have a significant interest in the outcome of the suit.

    In a nutshell, I believe that Judge Underhill based his decision on incorrect information, particularly about the level of funding and the possibility of minor party candidates to receive funding. Likewise, I believe that his decision is overly broad in striking down the whole program instead of just the manner in which minor party candidates qualify for funds.

    Finally, it is my understanding that he ignores precedent established in other states that permit what he has forbidden.

    Based on this, I hope there is a quick appeal to the Second Circuit and that the decision gets stayed until the decision can be heard in the Second Circuit.

    For more details, please read my blog post about the Ruling on Green Party Case Against the Connecticut Citizens’ Election Program on my personal blog.
    http://www.orient-lodge.com/node/3713

  4. Minority parties are clobbered with this bias. The Repubs and Dems already suck tax money out of the public troth every year, they dont need anymore. Its a well intended idea that suppresses minority speech. America is all about minority speech. Thats where you get the good ideas that the main parties steal, water down, and present to the public as their own. Lets give our citizens more credit by allowing more than 2 choices…..who are basically the same in the end aside from gay marriage and abortion and minor spending differences. But of course, then theres always people like Rob Simmons too. yuck.

    Good job judge.

  5. At least Jim Amann no longer has any excuses!

  6. Kim is at the press conference being held by the Attorney General and Secretary of State and is tweeting parts of it.

    You can see her tweets at
    http://twitter.com/khynes2000

    In addition, I’ve set up a CoverItLive feed at:

    http://www.coveritlive.com/index.php?option=com_altcaster&task=playaltcast&altcast_code=148038a3dd

  7. Update: According to the Courant piece, AG Dick Blumenthal is on the case. He indicated to reporters that he will seek a stay of the Judge’s decision and file an appeal.

    Hasn’t Dick already lost enough?

    There should be no appeal; it’s a waste of time and money. The law as written is patently unconstitutional. The proper action is to change the law to address the unconstitutional provisions (as GC suggests), not lose again in court.

    Hopefully the court order stands and incumbency protection disguised as reform is done for good.

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