Freedom to lie
Gosh, I wonder why the Supreme Court thought this case was worth hearing:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday said it will hear a challenge to an Ohio law that forbids candidates and issue groups from making false campaign statements.
I guess some members of the court are concerned that the anti-abortion zealots are being obstructed from lying. You can't blame them. Blatant dishonesty is a big part of the forced childbirth movement strategy and at least a handful of justices are undoubtedly fully on board with that tactic. But I would have thought they'd use a case that didn't point to it so specifically. If they were enabling a different kind of dishonest political ad they might have been able to keep the agenda under the radar.
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 Friday. “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.
I expect they will rule that lying in political ads is perfectly acceptable under the First Amendment. And maybe it is. Who really is the ultimate arbiter of truth anyway? But I think we all know who's going to benefit from this. Politicians of all partisan stripes lie, but there is one group that makes a particular fetish of it. And they have an endless supply of money.