A federal judge quoted fictional “House of Cards” character Frank Underwood in an opinion released Thursday for aptly articulating a “longstanding and fundamental principle of American law.”
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black struck down an Ohio law banning false statements about political candidates, decreeing it unconstitutional. The judge argued that although “[l]ies have no place in the political arena,” it’s not the role of the government to police the accuracy of statements.
The judge went on to quote Underwood — the calculating, murderous politician portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the popular Netflix drama — in his 25-page opinion:
What then is the alternative? The United States Supreme Court has clearly signaled the answer. For starters, the Supreme Court held flatly in 2012 that: “The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society. The response to the unreasoned is the rational; to the uninformed, the enlightened; to the straight-out lie, the simple truth.” United States v. Alvarez … The more modern recitation of this longstanding and fundamental principle of American law was recently articulated by Frank Underwood in House of Cards: “There’s no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth.”
The case dates back to a 2010 billboard pushed by the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List claiming that (now defeated) Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) supported taxpayer-funded abortions by voting for Obamacare. After a long battle in the courts about whether the Ohio law threatened the right to free speech, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously this year that SBA List had standing to move forward and have its case heard on the merits.