Supreme Court Schedules Pro-Life Group's Free Speech Lawsuit for April

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    (Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
    A general view of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington December 3, 2013.
By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
February 18, 2014|10:05 am

The United States Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for a case surrounding a pro-life group's lawsuit against an Ohio electoral speech law.

Susan B. Anthony List will get to present its arguments against an Ohio Election Commission statute on Tuesday, April 22, according to an announcement made on ScotusBlog.

Known as Susan B. Anthony List vs. Driehaus, the case will share the day with an appeal regarding the copyright of streaming TV programming on the Internet.

A pro-life organization founded in 1992, Susan B. Anthony List's mission involves getting pro-life individuals elected to public office.

Back in 2010, SBA List sought to unseat the self-identified "pro-life" Democratic Congressman Steve Driehaus in response to his voting for the Affordable Care Act.

SBA List planned to erect a billboard that read "Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion."

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Driehaus filed a complaint against SBA List before the Ohio Election Commission, arguing that the ad violated a state statute prohibiting false speech against a candidate.

According to the Ohio Revised Code, 3517.21, section B, individuals and groups involved in political campaigns are prohibited from disseminating false information about a candidate.

Section B states that "No person…shall knowingly and with intent to affect the outcome of such campaign" make "a false statement" regarding various matters pertaining to a candidate, including criminal record, education, disability status, or "the voting record of a candidate or public official."

In his complaint, Driehaus argued that the SBA List's claim that he supported "taxpayer-funded abortion" was incorrect given that the ACA did not directly endorse the practice.

"Federal law prohibits public funding for abortion, and Obamacare requires insurers to segregate funds for abortion coverage under a special set of rules," reported the Hill.

"The group denies that its claim against Driehaus was false, but it argues that the Ohio law deterred them from moving forward with the billboard campaign."

The ad ended up never being put on the billboard due to the owner having concerns over a possible statute violation, reported The Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"The Susan B. Anthony List filed a federal lawsuit that challenged the Ohio election law on free speech grounds, which persisted after Driehaus withdrew his election commission complaint upon losing to Cincinnati-area Republican Steve Chabot," wrote Eaton.

In its legal challenge to the Ohio statute, SBA List garnered the support of the pro-choice American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which filed an amicus brief in 2010.

"The prohibition on political speech in RC 3517.21(B), and the procedure by which the Ohio Elections Commission judges the truth or falsity of political speech, are unconstitutional. The statute is vague and overbroad, because it prohibits political speech protected by the First Amendment," stated the ACLU of Ohio.

 

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