by Steven Ertelt
October 3, 2006
Juneau, AK (LifeNews.com) — An Alaska pro-life group lost its battle to have the Supreme Court review a federal appeal court’s decision saying the state’s restrictive campaign finance laws don’t violate the First Amendment. Alaska Right to Life said its free speech rights had been violated because the laws restricted its ability to be involved in elections.
Without comment, the Supreme Court on Monday denied ARTL’s appeal the decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The debate centered on a 2002 law the state legislature approved requiring lobbying groups like ARTL to register their political materials with the state Public Offices Commission and to report private expenses involved in campaigning on each piece of political literature it produced.
The Alaska Right to Life Committee said the law was "too broad" and thus can "also encompass issue advocacy," which is protected by the Constitution.
Their lawsuit, which sought to declare portions of the law unconstitutional, cited a telephone campaign the group planned to do on behalf of a pro-life candidate shortly before the 2002 elections. It would have involved asking people if they were pro-life and then telling them about pro-life candidates if they indicated they opposed abortion.
The calls would not have explicitly endorsed any candidate but ARTL said officials from the Public Offices Commission told it that the group’s political action committee would have to pay for the calls rather than the organization itself, which has fewer restrictions on its fundraising.
A lower court dismissed the lawsuit, and the 9th Circuit Court in March upheld the decision.
Karen Lewis, the director of the pro-life group, told the Anchorage Daily News she was disappointed the high court wouldn’t hear the case.
"It seems like we’re being silenced. Free speech should always be in place," she said.
Lewis indicated the group would do any such information campaigns through its political action committee this year.