Supreme Court Skeptical of Laws Against Lying


Lying is a pillar of politics, as intrinsic a piece of the American electoral system as money and fear. We lament the false attack ads, the twisted narratives, the distortions of campaigns. But a Supreme Court decision Monday raises questions about whether states’ attempt to police campaign falsehoods may be more detrimental than the lies themselves.

In a 9-0 decision, the Court ruled that the Susan B. Anthony List, a national anti-abortion group, had the right to challenge an Ohio law that criminalizes false political speech. The ruling itself has limited impact: The justices’ decision merely allows SBA List to have its case heard in federal court. But it highlights the intersection—and the conflict—between the First Amendment and the truth.

The case stems from a 2010 Congressional race in southwest Ohio. Republicans were trying to win the House by harnessing anger about the health care reform law. Steve Driehaus, a…

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