tuesday, 17 june of 2014

Supreme Court allows challenge to law criminalizing false political statements


Supreme Court allows challenge to law criminalizing false political statements

The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus that the Susan B. Anthony List and the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes can proceed with a lawsuit challenging an Ohio law that criminalizes spreading false statements during the course of a political campaign. In 2010 then US Representative Steve Driehaus filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission over billboards put up by the SBA in his congressional district. After Driehaus lost his re-election bid, his complaint was dismissed. However, the SBA had already filed a suit in federal district court challenging the constitutionality of the Ohio law. The district court held that the suit was non-justiciable, and the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed. In an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court reversed:

The treat of future enforcement of the false statement statute is substantial. Most obviously, there is a history of past enforcement here: SBA was the subject of a complaint in a recent election cycle. ... In sum, we find that both SBA and COAST have alleged a credible threat of enforcement.

The court remanded the case for further proceedings, including a determination of whether plaintiffs have standing.

The court heard arguments in the case in April after granting certiorari in January. Also on Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning threatening speech and Facebook. Anthony Elonis was arrested in Pennsylvania for posting violent and threatening rap lyrics on Facebook. The court has yet to schedule a date for arguments.

(Published by Jurista - July 16, 2014)

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