FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 8, 2013
Contact: Mallory Quigley, 202-223-8073
Pro-life Group Seeks SCOTUS Ruling on Ohio Statute which Criminalizes & Chills Free Speech
WASHINGTON, DC –Tomorrow the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) will petition the Supreme Court of the United States to allow judicial review of the constitutionality of Ohio’s “false statement” law, which criminalizes “false” political speech and empowers a state agency to determine what constitutes true and false political speech. Since 2010, now former Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) has sought to use the statute against the SBA List. The group attempted to erect billboards in his district during the 2010 election cycle to educate constituents about his vote in support of taxpayer funding abortion by voting for the Affordable Care Act but was prevented from doing so because of the Ohio law. The SBA List was also threatened with prosecution if it engaged in similar speech about Driehaus or other candidates. Nevertheless, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the SBA List could not challenge the Ohio law under the First Amendment.
The petition asserts: “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.”
“We hope to see the Supreme Court affirm the First Amendment rights of the SBA List and of all Americans,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, President of SBA List. “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.”
“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,” said Dannenfelser.
In January 2013, the SBA List won its related two year court battle with Driehaus, who had also filed a defamation suit alleging that SBA List cost him his job and a “loss of livelihood,” when the district court reversed its earlier decision, holding that SBA List’s statements about Driehaus’ vote in favor of Obamacare were not defamatory. Driehaus filed an appeal to the dismissal in February.
SBA List’s arguments have gained widespread support. The ACLU of Ohio, in an amicus brief filed in the case, came to the group’s defense, declaring, “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. To that end, the SBA List emphasizes the education, promotion, mobilization, and election of pro-life women. The SBA List is a network of more than 365,000 pro-life Americans nationwide.