Justices will hear Ariz. campaign finance law dispute (Nov. 30, 2010)

The Supreme Court has agreed to determine the constitutionality of an Arizona law that provides matching funds to publicly financed political candidates.

Arizona enacted a campaign finance law that provides matching funds to candidates who accept public financing. The law, passed in 1998, gives an initial sum to candidates for state office who accept public financing and then provides additional matching funds based on the amounts spent by privately financed opponents and by independent groups. In 2008, some Republican candidates and a political action committee, the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, filed suit arguing that to avoid triggering matching funds for their opponents, they had to limit their spending and, in essence, their freedom of speech.

The U.S. District Court for District of Arizona found the matching-funds provision unconstitutional. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the case, saying it found "minimal" impact on freedom of speech.

On Nov. 30, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a pair of consolidated cases.

Question presented: Does the First Amendment prohibit linking the funds participating candidates receive in an election to the amount of money raised by or spent on behalf of their opponents?

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