Supreme Court Strikes Down “Trigger” Funds, But Public Financing Remains Constitutional

June 27, 2011

Brennan Center to Host Conference Call at 2:00 p.m. EST

Contact: Jeanine Plant-Chirlin,, 646-292-8322
               Erik Opsal,, 646-292-8356

The Brennan Center for Justice defended Arizona's campaign finance law before the Supreme Court with its pro bono counsel Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP.

The Center released the following statement from Executive Director Michael Waldman on the Supreme Court’s decision in McComish v. Bennett:

"We regret the Supreme Court's decision today to strike down a provision of the Arizona campaign law. Unfortunately, this is the latest recent example where the Court has struck down longstanding laws designed to curb the corrupting role of large campaign contributions.

"After the Court's ruling today, one key fact is clear. Public financing remains Constitutionally strong. The Court recognized public funding can 'further significant governmental interest[s], such as the state interest in preventing corruption.' These voluntary systems strengthen democracy. The Brennan Center will continue to fight for strong laws.

"Of note, such systems can exist and thrive without the kinds of triggers in the Arizona law. The presidential system did not have triggers, and proposed federal public financing laws for Congress do not either. 

"In addition, innovative reforms such as New York City's system, which matches small contributions, can give candidates a chance to compete. Today's ruling does not undercut the effectiveness of such pro-democracy reforms."

For reaction and comment on the decision, the Brennan Center will hold a conference call at 2:00 p.m. EST.

To call in, please dial (877) 615-4337 and enter passcode 5968 086#. On the call will be Michael Waldman and Monica Youn from the Brennan Center, a representative from Campaign Legal Center, and Bradley Phillips from Munger Tolles.

If you have questions, please contact Jeanine Plant-Chirlin at or 646-292-8322, or Erik Opsal at or 646-292-8356.