Why Political “Lies” Are Legal Under the Constitution: Remembering Banana Republic MO in 2008

From the Washington Times: “Supreme Court seems skeptical of Ohio law to police campaign ‘lies’.”

They should be!

At issue were billboards prepared in 2010 by the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group, accusing Steven Driehaus of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions because the Democrat voted in Congress for the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Driehaus, who lost his re-election bid, filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission. The commission found “probable cause” that the pro-life group violated a state law against making false statements in the 60-day window before the election.

The Susan B. Anthony List, backed by civil liberties groups on the right and the left, said the message on its billboards was protected by the First Amendment and that the Ohio government had no business policing the content of political speech in the middle of an election campaign.

Instead of dealing with this particular case, let me remind you of what I and other Missourians experience in 2008 during the campaign.

So we were informed that the police would be watching us to make sure we didn’t say anything that “was not true” about Barack Obama. Obviously, if Obama says he is a Christian, none of us had any right to doubt his word or pass on to others the fact that we doubted him or the reasons for our doubt. And if he said he wasn’t going to raise taxes on anyone above $250,000, then we had no right to doubt his promise.

And for the same reason, if anyone claimed that Obama’s program would take away your health insurance or your doctor, that would have been fair game for the “truth squad” as well.

The problem is that politicians lie and then are empowered to use their lies to pretend that those who expose them are the liars. Pro-lifers knew that Obama’s promise about abortion was not trustworthy. Driehaus had no reason to trust Obama and probably didn’t trust Obama. He just used Obama’s promise to cover himself. The Susan B. Anthony list only “lied” because they didn’t accept Driehaus’ cover story.

The Supreme Court needs to defend free speech. Discerning who is lying is the job of the voters, not law enforcement.