Monday, June 16, 2014: Today the United States Supreme Court has issued its opinion in the much-anticipated case, Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus. Justice Thomas delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court finding in favor of the Pro-Life group, Susan B. Anthony List (SBA). The court ruled that SBA and co-petitioner COAST (Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes) have standing to challenge an Ohio election statute under which they had been threatened with prosecution for holding members of Congress responsible for their voting record.
The case began when SBA publicized the voting records of members of Congress who voted in favor of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), despite the taxpayer funded abortion that Obamacare put into place. SBA’s political opponents claimed that statements such as, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion”, were false, and violated Ohio’s election laws. Faced with the threat of prosecution, SBA challenged the law. The lower courts ruled that there was no current threat of prosecution, and thus SBA lacked standing to bring the challenge. Today the United States Supreme Court ruled in SBA’s favor, finding that on issue of “actual injury” required for standing, SBA had demonstrated a credible threat of enforcement of the law against them.
“This decision is a victory for the SBA List and for pro-life advocates everywhere,” comments Dana Cody, LLDF’s President and Executive Director. “Today the Justices acknowledged the harm that occurs when free-speech is chilled by the threat of prosecution. SBA has won the opportunity to challenge Ohio’s election law and thereby to speak the truth about our elected leaders in the future.”
From the opinion: “And denying prompt judicial review would impose a substantial hardship on petitioners, forcing them to choose between refraining from core political speech on the one hand, or engaging in that speech and risking costly Commission proceedings and criminal prosecution on the other.”
In ruling in favor of SBA, the Supreme Court overturned the Sixth Circuit’s ruling regarding the “actual injury” requirement of Article III standing, and remanded the case for determination of the remaining issues in the case.
Background in the case and the amicus brief filed by LLDF and the Bioethics Defense Fund can be found at www.lldf.org.