breaking news

Severe T-storm watch, wind advisory in effect 

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

Venus Williams' Florida home burglarized, $400,000 in goods stolen during U.S. Open
Venus Williams' Florida home burglarized, $400,000 in goods stolen during U.S. Open

The Florida residence tennis star Venus Williams calls home was burglarized as she played in the U.S. Open in September, according to a Palm Beach Gardens police report released Thursday. Though what was taken from the home at BallenIsles Country Club is redacted from the report, police indicate more than $400,000 worth of items were taken...
J. Crew apologizes after photo of black model with messy hair sparks controversy
J. Crew apologizes after photo of black model with messy hair sparks controversy

J. Crew is facing criticism after a photo of one of its models and her seemingly unkempt hair surfaced online. The black woman, dressed in a Madewell dress, was photographed with her natural hair messily pulled back in a ponytail. But everyone wasn’t impressed with the look. >> Read more trending news One Twitter user took to the platform...
PERSPECTIVE: The magic of Thanksgiving togetherness

The calm before the rush of Thanksgiving preparation invites reflection. My mom, although extraordinary in matters of the heart, was really not a very good cook. I’m the first to admit her Thanksgiving turkey was a tad dry, and the cauliflower-au-gratin was s bit more watery than Velveeta cheesy. Yet she managed to create the best of what Thanksgiving...
Heroin dealer convicted of manslaughter after buyer fatally overdoses 
Heroin dealer convicted of manslaughter after buyer fatally overdoses 

A drug dealer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after selling heroin to a man who later died of an overdose from the opioid.  April Thomas Guthrie, 34, was also convicted of delivery of heroin and was sentenced to three to five years, according to WNCT.  Kendal Walbert died of a heroin overdose in August 2014 after buying heroin...
Revolving restaurant had no protections to stop boy's death, lawsuit says
Revolving restaurant had no protections to stop boy's death, lawsuit says

The company accused of negligence after a 5-year-old died at the Sun Dial restaurant had no comment Friday about a lawsuit filed against it. “Due to the pending litigation, we are not commenting on the matter,” Marriott International, Inc. spokesman Jeff Flaherty told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an email.  The parents of ...
More Stories