Score One for Clean Elections

Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election Program was a big winner yesterday.  The Supreme Court declined to review a complaint brought by the Green Party against Connecticut’s public financing law. In Green Party v. Lenge, the Green Party had argued that Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election Program unconstitutionally discriminated against minor party candidates by imposing different qualifying requirements than major party candidates.

Common Cause Connecticut, Connecticut Citizen Action Group and two other intervening defendants had urged the Supreme Court not to review a decision by the U.S Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the constitutionality of Connecticut’s public financing system for state elections.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals carefully examined the record and reached the conclusion that the Citizens’ Election Program’s qualifying criteria do not present unreasonable barriers to minor-party success, and in fact have permitted a significant number of non-major-party candidates to qualify for funding.

Connecticut’s landmark public financing program for statewide and general assembly races remains a constitutional model for combating corruption and demonstrates that public financing can operate without trigger funds.  74% of the General Assembly and 100% of statewide elected officials ran under the program in 2010.

Common Cause wants to thank the wonderful legal team who has worked on this case since it was first challenged in 2006.  Common Cause, Connecticut Citizen Action group  and the intervening defendants in the Green Party case were represented in the Supreme Court by Democracy 21’s  “Project Supreme Court” legal team, led in this case by former U.S. Solicitor General Seth Waxman and Randy Moss of WilmerHale and Scott Nelson of the Public Citizen Litigation Group.

Other “Project Supreme Court” lawyers in the case include attorneys from WilmerHale, Don Simon and Fred Wertheimer at Democracy 21, and Gerry Hebert at the Campaign Legal Center. Also representing the intervener defendants in the case in the Supreme Court are lawyers from the Brennan Center for Justice and Hogan Lovells. In the lower court proceedings for the Green Party case, the intervener defendants were represented primarily by Ira F. Feinberg, a partner at Hogan Lovells, and Monica Youn, a lawyer with the Brennan Center.

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