WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed to hear a free speech challenge to Arizona’s Clean Elections Law on Monday, a case that campaign finance reform advocates expect to be another blow in the court’s dismantling of the country’s elections system.
Arizona candidates running for statewide and legislative offices are eligible to receive public funds after raising a certain number of $5 donations, according to the measure adopted by voters in 1998. They also have to forgo private fundraising and accept expenditure limits. The controversial part of the law is the fact that candidates can receive additional funds if they are running against an opponent who is not part of the public system and spends an amount of money beyond a certain threshold — an attempt to level the playing field, at least in terms of funding.
In January, a U.S. district judge ruled on the side of the Goldwater Institute in Arizona, which is challenging the law. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, unanimously reversed that decision and upheld the Clean Elections Act in May.