Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Tavares v Wong—Deputy AG v AG

by Larry Geller

IMGP0443 Deputy AG Russell A. Suzuki (back to the camera) presented oral arguments this morning for the Campaign Spending Commission, and attorney William F. Crockett for Charmaine Tavares. The Supreme Court courtroom is a very comfortable place to observe, and the session was lightly attended.

This case will likely determine whether the $1,000 aggregate corporate campaign contribution limit holds, or, by affirming the ruling of the Second Circuit Court, is invalid. It could do for legislators what they could not do for themselves this past session, get them more corporate campaign money.

Probably a trained legal mind could meaningfully comment on who did better with the judges today. My impression is that Suzuki’s arguments were somewhat strained. On the other hand, Crocket was incisive and I suspect convincing.

Behind the scenes is Mark Bennett, the Attorney General, arguing in an Amicus Curiae brief that the Second Circuit Court's judgment should be affirmed.

Whaa? The deputy AG argues for Wong and his boss files a brief against him? Suzuki explained at the beginning of the hearing about the “firewall” that lets him do this.

Like I said, what came to mind was a wrestling match where the outcome is predetermined and then they go beat each other up enough to be convincing. Far be it from me to say that Suzuki is not arguing zealously on behalf of his client. No, I would never say that.

I wonder why the Campaign Spending Commission did not get themselves an independent attorney. The DOE avoided the AG’s office and went to an outside attorney to defend itself against claims made by special needs parents. They got their money’s worth, unfortunately for the parents.


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