Do laws against falsehoods in political ads violate the First Amendment?


The answer to the question in the headline above should be yes, and I can’t imagine that the nation’s highest court will say otherwise.

The story is HERE:

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday said it will hear a challenge to an Ohio laws that forbids candidates and issue groups from making false campaign statements.

The case, involving an anti-abortion group’s claim that Ohio’s False Statement Law violates free speech, will likely be argued in April, with a ruling announced during the last months of the Supreme Court’s term in May or June.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity to have our arguments heard,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, said in a press release Fridayd. “The Ohio Election Commission statute demonstrates complete disregard for the Constitutional right of citizens to criticize their elected officials.”

During the 2010 election cycle, Susan B. Anthony List accused then-Rep. Steven Driehaus (D-Ohio), who was running for reelection against Republican Steve Chabot, of endorsing taxpayer-funded abortions by voting for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Driehaus complained to the state election commission that the group’s proposed billboard ads saying, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion,” were false, since federal law prohibits the use of taxpayer money for abortion funding. The state blocked the billboards.

Susan B. Anthony List and the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes responded with federal lawsuits arguing that Ohio’s False Statement Law violates the First Amendment. A federal court dismissed the lawsuits in 2011, and an appeals court upheld the decision last year.

Driehaus was defeated for reelection in 2010 and lost a defamation lawsuit against Susan B. Anthony List in 2013.


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