Fried joins amicus brief in Supreme Court public finance case

Professor Charles Fried

Professor Charles Fried

On February 22, HLS Beneficial Professor of Law Charles Fried joined more than 10 former elected officials in an amici curiae brief filed in support of the respondents in McComish v. Bennett, now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case, which is scheduled for oral argument on March 28, concerns the legality of a provision in Arizona’s Clean Elections law enabling public funding for legislative and statewide candidates who agree to forgo private fundraising. The law specifically provides for “trigger matching funds”—funds issued to participating candidates who face high-spending, non-participating opponents who spend more than a threshold “trigger” amount against them.

Fried, along with the other amici curiae, asks the Court to uphold the permissibility of the trigger matching funds law: “Petitioners attempt to portray Arizona’s law as a restriction on speech, when in fact it is their position that would have a restrictive effect on political discourse.  They challenge a regime that silences no one, prohibits no speech, and only enables additional speech,” the brief argues in part.

The case marks the first time in 35 years that the Supreme Court will rule on a public finance case. The Court upheld the presidential public financing system in Buckley v. Valeo.