“PANTS on fire” is the lowest rating on PolitiFact’s "Truth-O-Meter". Alas, this badge of shame has done little to deter politicians and their acolytes from stretching the truth now and again. So some states have decided to take matters into their own hands. In Ohio, for example, anyone making a false statement about a candidate during a campaign risks jail time and a $5,000 fine. But does this violate the First Amendment rights of all citizens, including the deceitful?
In a Supreme Court ruling on Susan B Anthony List v Driehaus on June 16th, the justices unanimously furrowed their brows at Ohio’s ban without resolving whether it violates anyone's freedom of speech. The constitutional challenge to the state’s law came from two advocacy groups, and the justices gave them permission to press on. Lower-court rulings had found that the groups lacked standing to sue, since they did not face any imminent injury under the law. The Supreme Court, however, held that the “threat” of criminal prosecution for dubious campaign literature “suffices to create an...injury under the circumstances of...Continue reading