Supreme Court Rules Pro-Life Group Can Defend Its Free Speech Rights

National   Steven Ertelt   Jun 16, 2014   |   10:27AM    Washington, DC

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a pro-life women’s group in a case regarding whether it has a First Amendment right to expose the pro-abortion records of political candidates.

The Susan B. Anthony List is petitioning the high court to allow their First Amendment challenge to Ohio’s “false statement” law to proceed on the grounds that the statute empowers a state agency to determine what constitutes true or false political speech.

US Supreme CourtIn 2010, SBA List attempted to erect billboards to expose then Rep. Steve Driehaus for supporting taxpayer funded abortion by voting for the Affordable Care Act. SBA List was prevented from doing so because of the Ohio law, and was threatened with prosecution if it engaged in similar speech about Driehaus or other candidates in Ohio.

Today, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled the pro-life group has standing to continue its First Amendment challenge to Ohio’s “false statement” law.

“Today’s decision by the court is a step toward victory for the freedom of speech and the broad coalition of groups who have supported SBA List throughout this case. The truth or falsity of political speech should be judged by voters, not government bureaucrats,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser, in an email to LifeNews.

“It is beyond dispute that Obamacare contains multiple abortion-funding provisions,” continued Dannenfelser. “This reality will continue to be an issue in the midterm elections and future election cycles. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, SBA List is now one step closerin its quest to unleash the First Amendment from the constraints imposed by Ohio’s unconstitutional false speech statute. We are optimistic that the district court will rule quickly and will side with the First Amendment, so that we may proceed in Ohio – without fear of prosecution – with our ongoing efforts to inform voters that their elected representatives voted for taxpayer funded abortion.”

sbalist17Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman told LifeNews, after the decision: “The First Amendment forbids government from acting as a ‘truth commission’ on matters of public debate. The U.S. Supreme Court has rightfully upheld the freedom of Americans to speak in accordance with their views by allowing them to challenge laws that silence them. The Susan B. Anthony List’s warnings about abortion funding in Obamacare were objectively true. If that fact was part of what cost this congressman his job, that’s because his constituents, like most Americans, reject taxpayer-funded abortion.”

During the 2010 midterm elections, the Susan B. Anthony List helped defeat 15 out of 20 of the Democrats who failed to hold firm on their pro-life principles during the vote on the Affordable Care Act.

Since 2009 the SBA List, as well as Members of Congress like Reps. John Boehner (R-OH), Chris Smith (R-NJ), and Dan Lipinski (D-IL), along with other pro-life groups, and the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops, have argued that the Affordable Care Act permits taxpayer funding of abortion.

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In 2010, then House Republican Leader John Boehner said, “The need for an Executive Order is evidence that this is true, and Congressional Democrats know it. Make no mistake, a ‘yes’ vote on the Democrats’ health care bill is a vote for taxpayer-funded abortions.”

In 2010, Cardinal Francis George, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said, “The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions… Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples’ abortions with their own funds. If this new law is intended to prevent people from being complicit in the abortions of others, it is at war with itself.”