National: Supreme Court to Consider Challenge to Law Against Lying in Elections | Wall Street Journal
The Supreme Court will consider Tuesday whether two conservative groups can pursue a free-speech challenge to an Ohio false-statements law that if allowed would advance a broader push against state laws making it illegal to lie about a political candidate or ballot initiative. Although Ohio’s elections commission rarely refers complaints over false statements for prosecution, the conservative groups, including the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony List, said the law discouraged them from running advertisements against a Democratic congressman. “It almost never comes to a criminal prosecution, but that doesn’t mean there’s no chilling effect on speech,” Daniel Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University who isn’t involved in the case, said of the law. More than a dozen other states have laws authorizing criminal or civil penalties for spreading falsehoods in political campaigns. The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling, expected by June, is unlikely to affect the state laws or political discourse in the current elections cycle. The case would instead likely be sent back for lower courts to consider whether the false-statement law violates the First Amendment by improperly suppressing protected speech.