Sick of politicians telling smooth lies on the campaign trail, only to sell you out to lobbyists after they get elected? Sorry folks the Supreme Court decided unanimously that Politicians can lie through their teeth during campaigns under the Free Speech Provision of the First Amendment.
In Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus (Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 525 Fed. App’x. 415, 416 (6th Cir. 2013)), attorneys argued that the SBA List tried to erect billboards in Ohio in 2010 that accused then-Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) of supporting “taxpayer funded abortion” because he voted for the Affordable Care Act. Driehaus successfully filed a complaint against the group under an Ohio law that prohibits “false statements” during a political campaign, because federal dollars cannot be used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape and incest.
Driehaus withdrew his complaint after losing his reelection race, but SBA List continued to challenge the Ohio law against false political speech on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment right to free speech. Two lower courts ruled that the group could not continue to challenge the law in district court because it was no longer facing a sufficiently imminent injury, but the Supreme Court unanimously reversed those decisions.
“Denying prompt judicial review would impose a substantial hardship on petitioners, forcing them 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,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the unanimous opinion.
“The truth or falsity of political speech should be judged by voters, not government bureaucrats,”
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said. “As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, SBA List is now one step closer in its quest to unleash the First Amendment from the constraints imposed by Ohio’s unconstitutional false speech statute. We are optimistic that the district court will rule quickly and will side with the First Amendment, so that we may proceed in Ohio — without fear of prosecution — with our ongoing efforts to inform voters that their elected representatives voted for taxpayer funded abortion.”
In summary, in 2010 state legislators in Ohio under extreme pressure from pissed off voters in Ohio, passed a law that would open the door for voters to sue politicians who lied to them during campaign speeches. The first time the Ohio Law was challenged in the Supreme Court, it was declared unconstitutional. In Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, a lying political group tried to smear a candidate (Driehaus) over his alleged position on abortions. The result, Driehaus took them to the Supreme Court and laughed in their face when it was all said and done.
The SVA List Case is complicated and most people without a law degree would not completely understand it. In laymen’s terms, what this case established is known in legal terms as a precedent. In absence of a federal law stating otherwise, a precedent basically becomes the law. In the aforementioned case the precedent established by the Supreme Court, “The truth or falsity of political speech should be judged by voters, not government bureaucrats” became the law concerning if you can sue a politician for lying during a campaign…..in other words, the courts are not going to make a decision of rather or not a politician lied during a campaign. If you think the politician is lying to you, then don’t vote for him or her.
For anyone who thinks that this country has not gone down the toilet, one only has to consider that anyone of us can be prosecuted in both a civil and criminal court, for lying in certain situations. However, politicians can lie through their teeth, screw over millions of people and are protected by the First Amendment right to Free Speech. The Supreme Courts decision in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, is a travesty of justice and just one more nail in the coffin of what is left of this country.