By Julian Pecquet - 10/20/10 06:26 PM EDT
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday joined an anti-abortion-rights group in seeking to overturn an Ohio law that bars political advertisements if they're not truthful.
The Ohio Elections Commission last week ruled that Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List billboard ads accusing incumbent Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) of having "voted for taxpayer-funded abortion" ran afoul of the state's "false statement" law. SBA on Monday asked a federal court to block the commission's investigation until the court can decide whether the law is constitutional.
The law is "vague and overbroad, and it cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny," the ACLU brief states. "The statute fails for the same reasons that the Sedition Act has been condemned by history. The people have an absolute right to criticize their public officials, the government should not be the arbiter of true or false speech and, in any event, the best answer for bad speech is more speech."
Judge Timothy Black of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio is expected to consider a temporary restraining order later Wednesday.