In an emergency appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has enjoined Florida’s unconstitutional system of campaign finance “matching funds.” The ruling (.pdf) reverses a contrary decision—handed down only two weeks ago—by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle.
As we have previously described on this blog, matching-funds programs unconstitutionally discourage privately funded candidates from speaking because, if those candidates spend more than a certain amount on political speech, the government starts cutting checks directly to their government-financed opponents. IJ will soon be appealing a similar challenge to Arizona’s matching-funds program to the U.S. Supreme Court.
More analysis of the 11th Circuit's ruling to follow.
How likely is it that matching-funds programs like those in Florida, Arizona and Connecticut violate the First Amendment? Accordingly to the 11th Circuit, “exceedingly likely.”
In its ruling enjoining Florida’s matching-funds program, the 11th Circuit panel treats the legal issue in gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott’s challenge to Florida’s law as an easy question that is entirely resolved by the Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in Davis v. FEC. And the 11th Circuit is absolutely right.