Legal Center Files Supreme Court Brief Opposing Certiorari in Connecticut Public Financing Case


Today, the Campaign Legal Center, as part of legal team led by attorneys from Public Citizen and WilmerHale, filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of defendant-intervenors Common Cause of Connecticut et al., urging the Court not to grant a petition for certiorari in Green Party of Connecticut v. Lenge.  The Green Party challenged Connecticut’s public campaign financing law on the ground that the law imposes an unfair or unnecessary burden on the electoral opportunities of minor parties.

Under the law, a “major party” candidate—i.e., a candidate from a party that either had a candidate for governor who received at least 20% of the vote in the last election or whose registered voters make up at least 20% of Connecticut’s electorate—is eligible for a full public financing grant if she raises the requisite number of $100 “qualifying contributions” and agrees to a spending limit.  Candidates from non-major parties are eligible for a 2/3 funding grant for 15% of the gubernatorial vote or registered electorate and a 1/3 grant for 10% of the gubernatorial vote or registered electorate.

 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, following the Supreme Court decision in Buckley v. Valeo, upheld the Connecticut law, concluding that it serves important state interests in avoiding corruption or the appearance of corruption and that the law’s eligibility criteria served important interests in not squandering public funds on hopeless candidacies.  The court emphasized that Buckley had held that public funding could be conditioned on the showing of a threshold level of support for a party, so long as the statute does not have the effect of reducing the strength of minor parties below that attained without any public financing.  The Second Circuit concluded that under Connecticut’s law “minor-party candidates as a whole are … just as strong—if not stronger—than they were before the [public financing law] went into effect.”

We argue to the Supreme Court in our brief opposing certiorari that the Second Circuit correctly applied Buckley to the Connecticut law and facts of this case, giving the Supreme Court no grounds for reviewing the decision.  We further argue that no conflict exists among lower courts on this point of law, and that the issue itself is not one of national importance worthy of the Supreme Court’s limited resources.

Joining the Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen on the legal team defending Connecticut’s public financing law are attorneys from Democracy 21, WilmerHale, Hogan Lovells, and the Brennan Center for Justice.

To read the brief, click here.