They’re Here: Election Speech Cops

DriehausWND – by Bob Unruh

A legal team for the Susan B. Anthony List is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review Ohio’s “false statement” law that when applied to political speech and elections, gives bureaucrats the authority to determine what is true.

As WND reported, a federal judge sided with the Susan B. Anthony List in its two-year long free speech battle with a former congressman who alleged the organization cost him his job and “loss of livelihood” when it educated constituents on his voting record.  

At the time, SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said, “The blatant disregard for the First Amendment and the constitutional right of people to speak out against the actions of those elected to represent them is unacceptable.”

It was former Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus who was defeated in his 2010 re-election campaign by Rep. Steve Chabot. During the campaign, the Democratic Party even pulled its financial support for television ads for Driehaus when he fell behind.

He later alleged he had been damaged by the statements made by the SBA List.

Now, attorneys for the organization want a judicial review of the state law under which they were attacked.

That’s because the state law “criminalizes ‘false’ political speech and empowers a state agency to determine what constitutes true and false political speech,” they said.

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The SBA list tried to put up billboards in Driehaus’ district in 2010 “to educate constituents about his vote in support of taxpayer fund[ed] abortion by voting for the Affordable Care Act.”

The group was not allowed to post the billboards, because state officials claimed the statements fell into the “false” category. Then the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the SBA List would not be allowed to challenge the state limit under the First Amendment.

“In this case, application of the Sixth Circuit’s restrictive rulings has assured perpetuation of a blatantly unlawful regime under which bureaucrats are the supreme fact-checkers for every political campaign – a regime that has, predictably, been routinely abused and will continue to be, absent this court’s intervention,” the petition explains.

“We hope to see the Supreme Court affirm the First Amendment rights of the SBA List and of all Americans,” said Dannenfelser. “The Ohio Election Commission statute demonstrates complete disregard for the constitutional right of people to criticize their elected officials. Driehaus’ original complaint should have never been enabled in the first place. The law must go.”

Dannenfelser said Driehaus was originally opposed to the Affordable Care Act “because it did not contain specific language preventing the funding of abortion, and that never changed.”

“This very day, Americans of faith and conscience are still fighting the expansion of taxpayer funding of abortion brought about by the health care overhaul. We sought to inform voters in his district of Driehaus’ vote for the bill he said could not support.”

Driehaus’ defamation claim against the SBA List, however, was not supported by the courts.

The war over the speech restrictions also has attracted the attention of the ACLU of Ohio, which filed a brief stating, “The people have an absolute right to criticize their public officials, the government should not be the arbiter of true or false speech and, in any event, the best answer for bad speech is more speech.”

The Susan B. Anthony List, and its affiliated Political Action Committees, the SBA List Candidate Fund and Women Speak Out PAC, are dedicated to pursuing policies and electing candidates who will reduce and ultimately end abortion. The organization emphasizes the education, promotion, mobilization and election of pro-life women. More than 365,000 pro-life Americans nationwide are in its nationwide network.

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