What's at Stake
Whether a First Amendment challenge to an Ohio law prohibiting “false statements” about a political candidate “during the course of a campaign” was properly dismissed when the objecting candidate withdrew his administrative complaint after losing the election.
Under Ohio law, it is a crime to make false statements about a political candidate during the course of a campaign. This case arises in the context of a First Amendment challenge to that law. The merits of that dispute, however, are not before the Court. Rather, the question before the Court is whether the case was properly dismissed after the election was over and the objecting candidate had withdrawn his administrative complaint. The ACLU argues in its amicus brief that the case should have been allowed to proceed because of the risk of future enforcement, the chilling effect on plaintiffs’ speech, and the likelihood that future challenges would also be stymied by the short time-frame of an election.