The Arizona Gift Clause

123 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2022 Last revised: 2 Aug 2022

Date Written: July 19, 2022


Forty five state constitutions contain provisions barring the government from giving or lending public resources to private interests. These "Gift Clauses" are a legacy of the nineteenth century, when many state and local governments were plunged into economic and political catastrophe as a result of subsidizing private industry. Over time, these provisions have taken a variety of different paths in the legal precedent. In some states, courts have essentially eviscerated them by adopting a lackluster “rational basis” standard that deprives the Gift Clause of its effect. But in other states—notably Arizona—courts have diligently enforced these provisions, establishing precedent that lets government spend money for the public good, but prevents it from transferring taxpayer money to private interests. This article examines the Arizona Constitution’s Gift Clause, from its origins to the present day, and compares it with similar clauses in other state constitutions. Part I describes the philosophical issues that underlie Gift Clauses. Parts II and IIII examine the first and second waves of constitutional reform that led to the adoption of Gift Clauses. Part IV examines the origins of Arizona's Gift Clause specifically. Part V examines the current state of Gift Clause jurisprudence in Arizona.

Keywords: Arizona Constitution, Gift Clause, Anti-Gift Clause, Anti-Aid Provisions, Anti-Subsidy, subsidy

Suggested Citation

Sandefur, Timothy, The Arizona Gift Clause (July 19, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Timothy Sandefur (Contact Author)

Goldwater Institute ( email )

500 E. Coronado Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States
(602) 462-5000 (Phone)
(602) 256-7045 (Fax)


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