From Anatole France to the Cowardly Lion: Supreme Court and the Distortion of the First Amendment

In McComish petitioners claim a debilitating fear that under Arizona's system, privately financed candidates — the Lions of campaign finance, who can spend as much as they want, without any limit — are facing "hostile speech" (their words) from the Totos.

In 2011, opponents of public financing now ask the Supreme Court to create the Cowardly Lion First Amendment. You will recall that the Cowardly Lion, when he first appears in "The Wizard of Oz," tries to attack Toto, a tenth of his size; but then is reduced to indignant tears when little Dorothy stands up to him and slaps his nose. In like manner, the McComish petitioners claim a debilitating fear that under Arizona's system, privately financed candidates - the Lions of campaign finance, who can spend as much as they want, without any limit - are facing "hostile speech" (their words) from the Totos - the publicly financed opponents. They cite this fear as creating a constitutional injury requiring Court intervention. In short, the Supreme Court is being asked to declare that the First Amendment exists to ensure the right of privately financed candidates to speak without being responded to by publicly financed candidates.