Was a vote for the Affordable Care Act a vote for “taxpayer-funded abortion”? Sounds like a question of opinion, doesn’t it? But when a pro-life advocacy group called the Susan B. Anthony List said as much about then-Congressman Steve Driehaus’s vote during the 2010 election cycle, Driehaus filed an action charging them with making a false statement about his voting record, a crime under Ohio law. Driehaus lost the election, and the case was never decided. But the SBA folks still wanted the federal court to strike down the Ohio law as unconstitutional. Yesterday, the Supreme Court allowed their challenge case to go forward — and that tells us something important about the future of election law. Because the Ohio court never got a chance to find SBA guilty or not guilty of making a false statement about Driehaus’s voting record, no court has yet addressed the question of whether Ohio can outlaw such false statements altogether. The Supreme Court restricted its unanimous decision, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, to the threshold question of whether SBA could go to court seeking to have the law overruled when there were no present charges against it. The court held that the answer was yes.
Under Article III of the Constitution, there must be a case or a controversy before the courts have the authority to rule. According to Thomas’s opinion, the future threat of potential prosecution for saying that a pro-ACA congressman had voted for taxpayer abortion was enough to get the SBA into court.
On its own, there would be nothing shocking or especially troublesome about this holding allowing the SBA’s case to proceed. What is notable is the unanimity. Even conservative justices who generally interpret the case-or-controversy requirement narrowly, such as Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts, were prepared to reverse the lower courts to get the SBA into court. Something more is afoot than simply an expansive interpretation of case or controversy.
Full Article: Does Supreme Court Want Truthier Elections? – Bloomberg View.