Supreme Court to rule on anti-choice group’s right to lie in ads

By David Ferguson
Saturday, January 11, 2014 14:29 EDT
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Anti-choice protester outside SC via Shutterstock
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The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Friday that it is preparing to hear a challenge to an Ohio law prohibiting candidates and political groups from making false statements in campaign advertising. According to Huffington Post, anti-choice group the Susan B. Anthony List maintains that Ohio’s False Statement Law stifles their right to free speech.

The case will be argued in April and a decision is expected during the last weeks of the Court’s term in the summer. The Susan B. Anthony List issued a press release Friday saying that it is jubilant that the Court will hear their case.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity to have our arguments heard,” said the group’s Marjorie Dannenfelser. “The Ohio Election Commission statute demonstrates complete disregard for the Constitutional right of citizens to criticize their elected officials.”

The foundation made demonstrably false statements during its 2010 campaign to unseat Democratic then-Rep. Steven Driehaus. The organization erected billboards that said, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion.”

The anti-choice group made the allegations based on Driehaus’ vote in favor of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” In fact, federal law specifies that no federal tax dollars will ever be used to provide abortions for women in need. Furthermore, no such programs are implemented under the ACA.

That fact rendered the slew of billboards the Anthony List erected in Driehaus’ district false in the eyes of the law, and the billboards were taken down.

Susan B. Anthony List and the Tea Party group the Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes both filed federal lawsuits saying that the state violated the Anthony List’s First Amendment rights. A federal court dismissed the lawsuits in 2011 and an appeals court upheld that decision last year.

[image of anti-choice protester via Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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