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You are here News Politics Supreme Court to rule on political campaigns’ pretty little lies

Supreme Court to rule on political campaigns’ pretty little lies

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Supreme CourtIt turns out that there is a tenet in American politics that groups as diverse as the American Civil Liberties Union, the Obama administration, the anti-abortion group the Susan B. Anthony List and the Republican National Committee can agree on: Elections thrive on free speech, even if that speech contains obfuscations, mudslinging, half-truths and, occasionally, blatant lies.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, a case that turns on whether an Ohio law that prohibits “false statements” about candidates during a political campaign violates the right to free speech enshrined in the First Amendment.

As far as political spats go, this one started out unremarkably: In 2010 incumbent Rep. Steve Driehaus felt, as many candidates do during the course of an election cycle, lied about and mischaracterized.

The anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) was planning a billboard campaign accusing him of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions because of his vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act — despite the fact that Driehaus considers himself pro-life and voted for the law only after the Obama administration issued an executive order specifying that no taxpayer dollars would go to abortion providers.

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