You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

DeWine calls Ohio’s election law unconstitutional

Supreme Court told law has ‘chilling’ impact on freedom of speech.

In a highly unusual move, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine told the U.S. Supreme Court Monday that the state’s election law banning candidates from making false statements with malice violates the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech.

In legal papers filed with the justices, DeWine said the Ohio law has a “chilling’’ impact on the speech not only of candidates, but independent organizations wishing to advertise against a candidate. The attorney general contended that the law “polices not just ‘false’ speech, but speech that indisputably is protected under the First Amendment.’’

The justices are expected later this spring to hear two challenges — both from Cincinnati — to the Ohio law. They have been consolidated into one case.

The first involved a political action committee that tweeted support for a ballot issue that would have prevented Cincinnati from constructing a streetcar system. Opponents of the ballot issue complained that the political-action committee had violated state election law by making false statements.

The second challenge was filed by Susan B. Anthony List, a non-profit organization that wanted to place a billboard advertisement in 2010 criticizing former Rep. Steve Driehaus’ vote for the 2010 health-care law.

When Driehaus’ attorney threatened to sue, the billboard owner declined to put up the advertisement. Driehaus, a Democrat from Cincinnati, filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission, claiming the planned advertisement violated state election law that prohibits making false statements about a candidate.

Normally, the state attorney general would defend a law approved by the legislature in his or her state.

In the brief, DeWine contended that speakers can be intimidated by a complaint filed with the elections commission, writing “the speaker is forced to use time and resources responding to the complaint, typically at the exact moment that the campaign is peaking and his time and resources are best used elsewhere.’’

“In other words, the state has constructed a process that allows its enforcement mechanisms to be used to extract a cost from those seeking to speak out on elections, right at the most crucial time for that particular type of speech,’’ according to the brief. “And if the allegations turn out to be unfounded, there is no possibility of timely remedy.’’

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in News

Former MLB pitcher graduates from police academy
Former MLB pitcher graduates from police academy
Former major-league relief pitcher Anthony Varvaro is switching jerseys. He won’t be pitching to batters, though.
Deputies: Florida man claims he downed 18 beers, Xanax, before setting house fire
Deputies: Florida man claims he downed 18 beers, Xanax, before setting house fire
A Florida man was arrested Wednesday after police said he vandalized a vacant house during the summer while high on Xanax and drunk on 18 beers.
Now there will be 24 Fields of Dreams at iconic Iowa site
Now there will be 24 Fields of Dreams at iconic Iowa site
They got the OK to build it. Now they will come to play — in droves. Read more trending stories The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday cleared the way for a 24-field baseball complex at the “Field of Dreams” movie site in Dyersville, upholding a lower court's decision that the City Council properly rezoned the property from agricultural to commercial.
Snow and rain on the way
Snow and rain on the way
Pit bull pup honored after preventing rape in NYC
Pit bull pup honored after preventing rape in NYC
Apollo is a 5-month-old pit bull puppy who took a bite out of crime, preventing a New York City woman from being raped.
More Stories