Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Right To Lie

Can political ads legally do what they do anyway?
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case delving into the government's right to police alleged lies in political advertising.

The high court announced Friday afternoon that it will take up a lawsuit filed by Susan B. Anthony List, a national anti-abortion advocacy group that sought to run political ads against then-Rep. Steven Driehaus (D-Ohio).

The Driehaus campaign argued that the SBA ad ran afoul of the Ohio False Statement Law that makes it illegal to "post, publish, circulate, distribute, or otherwise disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard for whether it was false or not, if the statement is designed to promote the election, nomination, or defeat of the candidate."

Driehaus was defeated for re-election in 2010 and withdrew his complaint with the Ohio Election Commission before the case could be heard by the panel.

While the complaint was awaiting a hearing, SBA and the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes filed federal lawsuits saying that the Ohio law was unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.
In politics, the line between defamation and telling the truth is often a fine one...

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