On May 16, U.S. District Court Judge Louise W. Flanagan struck down North Carolina’s provision for extra public funding for judicial candidates who have privately-funded opponents who raise a great deal of campaign contributions, or who are the beneficiaries of large independent expenditures on their behalf. The case is North Carolina Right to Life PAC v Leake, 5:11-cv-472, eastern district.
The decision was no surprise, because the U.S. Supreme Court already ruled last year in Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v Bennett, that this type of public funding is unconstitutional. The only real issue in the recent North Carolina case is whether the state could defend itself by saying it no longer pays this kind of extra public funding. The state said, since it won’t make such payments, the case is moot. But the judge said the case is not moot just because the government promises not to follow the program. The opinion says, “Dismissal on mootness grounds is inappropriate if the defendant voluntarily ceases the allegedly improper behavior but is free to return to it at any time.” Thanks to the Center for Competitive Elections for this news.