Don't Feed the Alligators: Government Funding of Political Speech and the Unyielding Vigilance of the First Amendment
Cato Supreme Court Review, pp. 81-127, 2010-2011
49 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 21, 2011
This is an analysis of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club Pac v. Bennet, 131 S. Ct. 2806 (2011), which struck down the Arizona program for providing government “triggered” matching funds in political campaigns. Under that scheme, a publicly funded candidate, whose campaign is almost wholly funded by government already, is given additional government funds for his campaign whenever a privately financed candidate (or independent groups supporting that candidate as well) raises or spends any money to campaign against the publicly funded opponent. The Supreme Court ruled that such government supported counter-speech deters and burdens the speech of the privately funded candidate, as well as of independent groups and individuals, without a sufficiently compelling First Amendment justification. The article analyzes the decision, sets it in the larger context of the whole question of public funding of political campaigns and then projects the impact the decision is likely to have in the future judicial and legislative engagements with public funding of political campaigns.
Keywords: First Amendment, Campaign finance, Elections, Public Financing of Elections
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