Justices rule for SBA List in speech case

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The Supreme Court said Monday that a national anti-abortion-rights group can challenge a state law banning lies in political speech.

The justices ruled unanimously for the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, saying the group has the right to sue against an Ohio statute that could have prevented its election-year advertising from moving forward four years ago.

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The case arose after former Rep. Steven Driehaus (D-Ohio) filed a complaint against the SBA List during the 2010 election cycle over a proposed billboard campaign hammering his support for ObamaCare.

The SBA List hoped to accuse Driehaus of endorsing "taxpayer-funded abortion" in his vote for the healthcare law, a claim Driehaus said was false under the Ohio speech law.

While the case never received a ruling from the Ohio Election Commission, it prompted the SBA List to file a lawsuit against the state statute on First Amendment grounds.

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser cheered Monday's high court ruling as a "step toward victory for the freedom of speech."

"As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, SBA List is now one step closer in its quest to unleash the First Amendment from the constraints imposed by Ohio’s unconstitutional false speech statute," Dannenfelser said in a statement.

"We are optimistic that the district court will rule quickly and will side with the First Amendment."

The group's proposed billboard campaign centers on one of the most controversial claims by critics of ObamaCare: that the law provides taxpayer money for abortion.

Public funding for abortion is currently prohibited by federal law, and ObamaCare requires insurers to segregate funds for abortion coverage under a special set of rules.

The Obama administration and most experts on the Affordable Care Act deny the SBA List's claim, which will now proceed in the lower courts.

Monday's decision was written by Justice Clarence Thomas.