High Court Strikes Campaign Finance Reform Law

Arizona law violates First Amendment, says ruling
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 27, 2011 11:27 AM CDT
High Court Strikes Campaign Finance Reform Law
An artist's rendering of the court.   (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)

The Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law today in a decision that advocates for stricter campaign finance regulation see as a blow, the National Journal reports. The law allowed the state to give additional subsidies to publicly financed candidates for every dollar their wealthier, privately financed opponents raised over the state's spending limits. In a 5-4 decision, the high court found the law places a "substantial burden" on privately financed candidates' First Amendment rights. (It was the same 5-4 decision as in the Citizens United case, notes the New York Times.)

"We have repeatedly held that leveling the playing field is not a legitimate government function," said Chief Justice John Roberts, who was joined by Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito in the majority opinion. In the dissent, Justice Elena Kagan argued that the law was "necessary to break the stranglehold of special interests on our system of government." (Click to read about the court's decision to reject a ban on the sale of violent video games to minors.)

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