Charles Fried and Cliff Sloan argue in the New York Times that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United should lead the Court to uphold Arizona’s system of government-funded political campaigns. To the contrary, Citizens United held that government cannot burden speech based on the identity of the speaker. But that is exactly what Arizona’s law does: It was designed—and sold to the public—as a way to discourage speech by privately funded candidates and the groups that support them.
Fried and Sloan seem untroubled by this. Indeed, they argue that there are no limits on the government’s power to selectively fund its preferred speakers. Thankfully, the current Court is skeptical of campaign finance laws precisely because of the risk that they will be used to rig elections. We hope this skepticism will lead the Court to strike down Arizona’s unconstitutional “clean elections” system.