The Court ruled on Susan B. Anthony v Driehaus. While running for Reelection, the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA)ran an add against Congressman Steve Driehaus arguing that when he voted for Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 or Obamacare, the Driehaus voted for tax payers funded abortions. The Driehaus filed a complaint against SBA arguing that SBA violated Ohio’s law prohibiting making false statements during the campaign season. Even though the case was dismissed, SBA filed a complaint in federal court arguing Ohio’s law infringed on their right to exercised free speech because SBA has been chilled by the threat of civil and criminal actions against it and it forced them to spend time and money to defend itself. Even though SBA argued that they plan to do more campaigning and the district court dismissed the case. The district court held the case was not ripe for review because future concerns about infringement on free speech are speculative. SBA appealed..
Was the case ripe for review? The Court did not deal withe the free speech issue because case was dismissed without considering the free speech issue.
Yes the case is ripe for review because SBA could run into the same issue in their future campaigns. In reversing the dismissal, the Court held that a threat of criminal action is enough to challenge the law.
Yes the law is an infringement of free speech.
A motion to dismiss is a common defense in litigation. After Driehaus lost he went to serve in the Peace Corps. While SBA campaign against Driehaus is over, their concern about Ohio’s law still need to be addressed. The ACLU filled an amicus brief arguing the case should proceed because of risk of future enforcement and the chilling effect of free speech. This case was remained back to the district court to allow SBA to preside with litigation against the Ohio’s law.
Ohio’s law make it a crime to” make false statements concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official”. What are false statements? What are argumentative statements? As part of campaigning people make statements to pursade voters to vote for or against a candidate of issue. SBA argued that Obamacare provide subsidies to insurance that provide elective abortion services. By voting for Obamacare, Driehaus voted for taxpayer funded abortions. SBA used their constitutional right to make that argumentative statement just like any other activist make argumentative statements while electioneering.