The Supreme Court will hear arguments Tuesday in a Cincinnati case that touches on free speech in elections, with an anti-abortion group seeking to challenge the constitutionality of an Ohio law that bans lying about political candidates. The case will pit two brilliant but stylistically opposite lawyers against each other, as they make competing arguments before the nine justices. Ohio’s State Solicitor Eric Murphy is an up-and-coming conservative star who will defend the Ohio law. Washington super-lawyer Michael Carvin is a seasoned Supreme Court veteran seeking to knock it down. Murphy and Carvin will face off in a legal clash that began during the 2010 congressional race between then-Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus and his GOP challenger Steve Chabot of Westwood. An anti-abortion group, the Susan B. Anthony List, wanted to launch a billboard ad campaign accusing Driehaus of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions by voting in favor of the federal health reform law.
Driehaus sought a ruling from the Ohio Elections Commission to block the ads, saying they violated the state’s false-claims law. SBA List challenged the Ohio law in federal district court, arguing it violated the group’s free-speech rights.
The district court dismissed the suits, ruling that SBA List and COAST, a Cincinnati anti-tax group that also challenged the law, didn’t have the right to sue because they hadn’t been criminally prosecuted. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case in January.
The justices will not decide whether Ohio’s law is constitutional. Instead, the court will examine whether SBA List and COAST have legal standing – the ability to sue if they’ve been injured by the law.
Full Article: SCOTUS hears local free speech case Tuesday.