ON-Lion Letter
In a victory for free speech and political participation, the U.S. Supreme Court in late June ruled that the "matching-funds" provision of Arizona's so-called "Clean Elections Act" is unconstitutional. The landmark case is Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett, argued by the Institute for Justice (IJ) in Arlington, Va.

The decision is IJ's fourth Supreme Court victory in nine years. Both IJ and the Goldwater Institute in Phoenix had challenged Arizona's law in court. Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation supports IJ and Goldwater's Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation, which is directed by Bradley Prize recipient Clint Bolick.

Arizona's "Clean Elections Act" manipulated election speech by favoring candidates who participated in the public-funding system over those who chose to forego taxpayer dollars and instead raise funds through voluntary contributions. For every dollar a privately funded candidate spent above a government-dictated amount, the government gave additional funds to his opponent. The act even matched funds spent by independent groups that supported privately funded candidates, thereby canceling out those independent groups' speech.

According to the Court, "The direct result of the speech of privately financed candidates and independent expenditure groups is a state-provided monetary subsidy to a political rival. That cash subsidy, conferred in response to political speech, penalizes speech."
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