531 U.S. 533 (2001)
Respondents were employed by a grantee of appellant nonprofit legal services corporation. The lower court found that the restriction in the Omnibus Consolidated Rescissions and Appropriations Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321, which limited the arguments respondents were allowed to make on behalf of indigent welfare clients, was an impermissible viewpoint-based discrimination under U.S. Constitutional Amendment I.
- The court concluded that the Legal Services Corporation Act, 42 U.S.C.S. § 2996 et seq., facilitated private speech, rather than promoted a governmental message, because attorneys who were funded by the program, such as respondents, spoke on behalf of their clients in pursuing welfare claims.
- However, Congress had impermissibly restricted that speech by designing a subsidy to limit the arguments that respondents were allowed to make before the judicial branch.
- In effect, Congress had attempted to insulate its own laws from legitimate judicial challenge by defining the scope of the litigation it funded to exclude certain vital theories and ideas.
- Such a restriction violated the First Amendment and was inconsistent with the accepted separation of powers principle.
Judgment was affirmed because Congress was facilitating private speech in funding legal services program for indigent welfare clients and had impermissibly restricted that speech by designing a subsidy program that attempted to insulate its own laws from legitimate judicial challenge.