The Supreme Court on Free Speech: Defamation, Libel and Slander

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Monday, June 16, 2014 in favor of the Susan B. Anthony List and Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, stating that both conservative groups may continue to oppose an Ohio campaign law that makes lying about political candidates illegal. The same suit had been dismissed by lower courts because neither group had been prosecuted for infringing upon the campaign law.

 In his opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that both groups had legitimate First Amendment claims to sue, as they face a “credible threat of enforcement” against their free speech and might be “[forced] to choose between refraining from core political speech on the one hand, or engaging in that speech and risking costly commission proceedings and criminal prosecution on the other”.

After the decision, the case returns to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

The suit first began after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, when the Susan B. Anthony List organized efforts to run a billboard accusing Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat who had voted in favor of the health-care bill, of supporting “taxpayer-funded abortion.” Rep. Driehaus, who was campaigning for re-election at the time, argued that the billboard qualified as a false statement as the new health-care law specifically bans the use of federal funds for abortions. Following a ruling by an elections commission group in Driehaus’ favor, Susan B. Anthony List sued to challenge the Ohio campaign law. The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes joined their suit soon after, claiming that it too had been prevented from speaking freely about candidates for fear of facing charges.

The president of the Susan B. Anthony List, Marjorie Dannenfelser, says the Supreme Court’s ruling is “the first step toward a true victory for the First Amendment.”

_______

Lawyer Timothy Broderick’s LinkedIn page.
Lawyer Timothy Broderick’s Avvo page.
Lawyer Katrina Saleen’s LinkedIn page.
Lawyer Katrina Saleen’s Avvo Page.

Visit lawyers Timothy Broderick and Katrina Saleen at the Broderick Saleen Facebook page.
Visit lawyers Timothy Broderick and Katrina Saleen at the Broderick Saleen Yelp page.
Visit lawyers Timothy Broderick and Katrina Saleen at the Broderick Saleen YouTube page.
Visit lawyers Timothy Broderick and Katrina Saleen at the Broderick Saleen Google + page.
Visit lawyers Timothy Broderick and Katrina Saleen at the Broderick Saleen Twitter page.