In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Brown Files Criminal Complaint Against Mass Dems Mailer Charging He Wants Rape Victims Turned Away


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The Boston Globe wrote last week of the arguments over Coakley's ad:

The dispute is over a 2005 amendment that Scott Brown sponsored in the state Senate. The amendment would have allowed a doctor, nurse or hospital to deny rape victims an emergency contraceptive if it "conflicts with a sincerely held religious belief."

The amendment, which did not pass, was attached to a bill that he ultimately voted for, which required emergency rooms to provide the contraceptives to rape victims.

In Coakley's latest ad, released after a heated debate Monday night, a narrator says, "Brown even favors letting hospitals deny emergency contraception to rape victims."

Brown and his supporters have declined to discuss the underpinnings of his amendment, instead trying to focus on the fact that he supported the overall legislation.

Over the weekend, Brown's campaign said they would file a criminal complaint, under a state law that forbids false statements against political candidates. "People can shade things and spin things, but it has to have some kernel of truth," said Brown campaign counsel Daniel Winslow.

Don't expect the criminal complaint to go very far. As a general rule, civil and criminal complaints filed over campaign attacks don't result in much, because the courts are loathe to get involved in policing the rough and tumble of political debates. To penalize campaign speech would create a chilling effect that would intimidate future campaigns, so an attack would have to be really bad and really false to merit legal penalties.