If P.J. O’Rourke Keeps Writing Amicus Briefs, I Will Probably Keep Reading Them!

orourkeI am a fan of P.J. O’Rourke. He has written a lot of good lines. Recently he spiced up everyone’s life when he teamed up with the Cato Institute to file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court related to the upcoming case Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus. This is obviously some of his handiwork.

Driehaus voted for Obamacare, which the Susan B. Anthony List said was the equivalent of voting for taxpayer- funded abortion. Amici are unsure how true the allegation is given that the healthcare law seems to change daily, but it certainly isn’t as truthy as calling a mandate a tax.

Poking fun at the Chief Justice in an amicus brief has to be a first. I am familiar with Mr. Driehaus. He is a local politician lost his seat in 2010 to long time Congressman, Steve Chabot. He won the seat in 2008 with the help of President Obama and I guess the thrill was gone for the voters in 2010. I was surprised to learn that it was illegal to lie about politicians in Ohio and even more surprised that Mr. Driehaus sued the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. It makes him look less like a former Congressman and more like a sore loser. This Ohio law forbidding lying is embarrassing. Although I would prefer that people stick to the truth about politicians and issues, I can tell you that it sure has not stopped anyone from lying in Ohio. Everyone has their favorite facts and studies. So we have a law most people ignore that is probably unconstitutional. Maybe the Supreme Court will put the law out of its misery before someone finds a way to abuse it. If they let the law stand the Supreme Court may have a mess that will make the Affordable Care Act look like child’s play to deal with. Sorry Chief Justice Roberts you set the precedent of how to deal with highly political laws. Here is what Ilya Shapiro wrote about the case over at Cato.

Believe it or not, it’s illegal in Ohio to lie about politicians, for politicians to lie about other politicians, or for politicians to lie about themselves. That is, it violates an election law””this isn’t anything related to slander or libel, which has higher standards of proof for public figures””to make “false statements” in campaign-related contexts.

During the 2010 House Elections, a pro-life advocacy group called the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), published ads in Ohio claiming that then-Rep. Steven Driehaus, who was running for re-election, had voted to fund abortions with federal money (because he had voted for Obamacare). Rather than contesting the truth of these claims in the court of public opinion, Driehaus filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission (OEC) under a state law that makes it a crime to “disseminate a false statement concerning a candidate, either knowing the same to be false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false.”

While the complaint was ultimately dropped, the SBA List took Driehaus and the OEC to federal court, seeking to have this law declared unconstitutional and thus enable advocacy groups to have more freedom going forward. The case has now reached the Supreme Court.