High Court Strikes Matching Funds For Publicly Financed Campaigns

In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday struck down an Arizona law that provides matching funds to publicly-financed candidates when a privately-financed candidate, or third party groups supporting him, spend more money than the publicly-financed candidate was given.

Under the law, the publicly-financed candidate is given money to match the other candidate’s spending.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that providing funds to a candidate’s opponent is a burden on the political speech of the privately-financed candidate, and therefore the law violates the First Amendment. Unlike other laws the Supreme Court has struck down, the Arizona law directly gives money to candidates instead of raising contribution limits. This means that if a privately financed candidate raised $1,000 at a fundraiser, each of his opponents would receive $940.

Because a candidate would need to consider the benefit his opponents would receive before releasing a campaign ad, Roberts said, the system burdens political speech and is therefore unconstitutional.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing on behalf of herself and the Court’s liberal wing, pointed out that the Arizona scheme was passed by Arizona voters via referendum, and it was intended to combat real corruption in Arizona state offices.

She said that the law was an attempt to lessen the influence of big donors, and she noted that the initial grant of money was designed to be about as much as a candidate would likely need for a given race. Only if the privately financed candidate exceeded that amount would the other candidates receive additional money.

While Chief Justice Roberts called the scheme a “burden on political speech,” Kagan said that it “promotes the values underlying both the First Amendment and our entire Constitution by enhancing the opportunity for free political discussion.”

In his opinion, Roberts affirmed previous rulings which found that public financing “can further governmental interests, such as … preventing corruption,” but said that the Arizona law went too far.

The case was Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett.

About Jay Goodman Tamboli

View all posts by Jay Goodman Tamboli

Education Dept. Announces New Teacher Prep. Evaluation System

The new regulations require states to move towards outcomes rather than inputs, such as new teacher employment, as well as surveys on effective preparation, student learning outcomes

Feature: Arab Spring Culminates in Tunisian Presidential Election

A woman inks her finger before casting her vote in Tunisia's presidential election. November 23, 2014. Photo: Luke Vargas/TRNS

Tunisians voted to elect a new president on Sunday, bringing full circle the democratic aspirations first articulated in the Arab Spring revolutions of 2011.

Gov. Nixon Issues Additional National Guard Troops to Ferguson

National Guard presence will be upped from 700 troops on Monday to 2,200 on Tuesday – roughly a tenth of Ferguson’s population.

Pentagon Refutes Claims of “Bad Blood” Between Hagel and White House

Even as Defense Sec. Hagel’s resignation was met with claims that he was pushed out. Pentagon Press Secretary, Rear Adm. Kirby, said this is false.

CDC: One Third Of HIV Infections Getting Treated

About 20 percent of those that do not have HIV under control are unaware that they have the virus, according to a CDC report.

Brown Family Attorneys Condemn Grand Jury Decision

Brown Family Attorney Benjamin Crump called the process “unfair” and broken.” Sharpton said that St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch had gone out of his way to criminalize Brown.