A victory for political speech from the Supreme Court
I mentioned in the post on Supreme Court’s decision overturning Calfornia’s ban on sales of violent video games to minors that there was another First Amendment case that they announced yesterday. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that Arizona’s campaign finance law, which provided taxpayer-funding for candidates that were being outspent by their opponents and independent groups. is unconstitutional
The Supreme Court on Monday issued a 5-4 decision striking down part of an Arizona law providing public funds for campaigns.
The case, Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, was closely watched by advocates for reducing the role of money in politics. They feared that the high court, which has issued sweeping rulings striking down campaign finance restrictions as violations of free speech, would use the case to rule broadly on the constitutionality of programs that provide public money to candidates.
Instead, the court issued a relatively narrow ruling striking down a provision in the Arizona law that provided additional funds to publicly funded candidates running against opponents who outspend them outside the system.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, agreed, writing: “We hold that Arizona’s matching funds scheme substantially burdens protected political speech without serving a compelling state interest and, therefore, violates the First Amendment.”