This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in two combined Arizona cases, which together comprise what we’d call the Clean Elections case.

As SCOTUSBlog originally announced (and the ABA Journal passed on), the 5–4 decision found the Arizona law an unconstitutional infringement of free speech.

Here are the opinion and dissent (in PDF).

I have not yet read the opinion, so I cannot tell if it relied on any of the arguments stated in a pro–con on the topic we ran in the November 2010 Arizona Attorney Magazine.

But I would be curious about one thing: How many of the Court’s opinions or dissents through history have used the word “chutzpah,” as Justice Kagan did in her dissent:

This suit … may merit less attention than any challenge to a speech subsidy ever seen in this Court. In the usual First Amendment subsidy case, a person complains that the government declined to finance his speech, while bankrolling someone else’s. … But the candidates bringing this challenge do not make that claim—because they were never denied a subsidy. Arizona, remember, offers to support any person running for state office. Petitioners here refused that assistance. So they are making a novel argument: that Arizona violated their First Amendment rights by disbursing funds to other speakers even though they could have received (but chose to spurn) the same financial assistance. Some people might call that chutzpah.

This case, and the Court’s other recent campaign-funding jurisprudence, means one thing for sure: We will be covering the topic in future issues.

Is it an exaggeration to say that a case being argued at the U.S. Supreme Court today could be the Miranda ruling of campaign finance?

Well, maybe. But in terms of Arizona facts that contribute to national law, today’s arguments pack a wallop.

The oral argument is in regard to the matching-funds provision of Arizona’s clean elections statute, and it involves two consolidated cases: McComish v. Bennett and Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett.

The Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments this morning to reverse a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld matching funds.

Here is a good analysis of the case’s importance.

And here is a local story, which includes a lawyerly tale of how people agree on who gets the privilege of arguing to the high Court. Once the Court opted to disallow a time-split between appellants Institute for Justice and the Goldwater Institute, how could the eager lawyers come to agreement on which would speak? It came down to a coin toss.

Finally, the Goldwater Institute has posted online all of the case filings. You can read the merits brief and the reply brief (and a whole lot more) here. And the Court’s own docket, including the Questions Presented, is here.

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