Do Welfare States Have a ‘Freedom to Fund’? On Conditional Cash Transfers and Political Speech

Can the state condition financial support for artistic speech upon the content of the speech? In Israel, the government has begun to use its cash transfer mechanisms to either penalize or incentivize political speech in ideologically controversial contexts, and legal controversy ensued. The article locates cash-transfer strategies pertaining to political speech in a broader typology of welfare state conditionalities, and develops a normative evaluation metric, premised primarily on the extent of the state’s background role in sustaining the field of speech: the more state funding is essential for the supported field’s thriving, the less should it be exploited in order to affect the contents of the subsidized speech. This framework leads to a proportionality-based assessment of different methods of funding-based speech-incentivization (e.g., grants/withholding, exclusion/limitation), and is discussed in relation to other normative bases for regulation of ideological speech subsidies.

Free Speech, Free Finance, and the Anti-Entrenchment Principle

I examine how governments use their “power of the purse” to limit speech critical of their policies. An increasingly popular justification is that since government represents the people, and its policies are chosen by “the people,” it is under no obligation to finance such views. Current free speech doctrine does not address such arguments successfully, despite developing doctrines that limit the government’s discretion in the use of its allocative power. I propose an anti-entrenchment principle, according to which democracies should be suspicious of governments which try to entrench their power beyond their elected term. Used mostly in the context of election law, I argue that it be extended to all facets of governance, in this case speech. On my view, the prohibition on government entrenchment should lead to a constitutional principle that requires the government to allocate funds precisely to speech that is critical of the government’s values, policies, and preferences.

The Moral Market: Compelled Speech and Government Funding

What are the legal, moral and political obligations that attend the relationship between government and private actors accepting public money while exercising their right to freedom of religion in a liberal democracy? Using a Canadian case study in which the federal government requires all fund recipients for a grant program to sign an attestation that they uphold the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and including reproductive rights, I want to outline the possible conditions in which the government may express its policies through funding requirements and inquire under what conditions can private groups get access to the money and yet refrain from endorsing government policy. One possible solution in order to maintain the value of pluralism and respect for freedom of religion is to ensure that the government may only require recipients to affirm mandated commitments when the government has no other alternative available in expressing its policy.