On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List has standing to challenge a state law in Ohio that prohibits false statements about political candidates.
The unanimous ruling, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, says the group demonstrated a “sufficiently imminent injury” and therefore its First Amendment case against the law may move forward.
Conservatives including Justice Antonin Scalia have sardonically dubbed it the “Ministry of Truth” statute.
“The question in this case is whether their preenforcement challenge to that law is justiciable—and in particular, whether they have alleged a sufficiently imminent injury for the purposes of Article III. We conclude that they have,” Thomas wrote for the Court.
In 2010, SBA List sought to put up a billboard accusing then-Rep. Steve Driehaus, a Democrat, of supporting taxpayer-funded abortion by voting for Obamacare. Driehaus complained to state officials, saying it ran afoul of the campaign lies law. Although the state didn’t take action, the billboard company refused to put up the ad, which caused SBA List to sue, alleging the law had a chilling effect on its free speech rights.
Driehaus has since left Congress. But the Supreme Court has permitted the constitutional challenge against the Ohio law to move forward, concluding that “the threat of future enforcement of the false statement statute is substantial.”
The high court’s decision in SBA List v. Driehaus reverses the ruling of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which sided against the anti-abortion organization.