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US Supreme Court on Election Freedom of Speech

  • June 28th, 2007

I wonder if Ms Clark’s law drafters will be interested in a US Supreme Court decision on Monday 25 June? Our government is about to release a bill to restrict election advertising by people other than politicians.  In effect it will treat election debate as the preserve of politicians and political journalists.

The US Court has just held unconstitutional aspects of campaign finance laws restricting third party-funded television ads close to elections.. The court, split 5-4, said that an anti-abortion group should have been allowed to air ads during the final two months before the 2004 elections.

Wisconsin Right to Life wanted to broadcast ads asking voters to urge the state’s two senators not to filibuster President Bush’s judicial nominees.

They were stopped by a provision that banned issue ads that cast candidates in positive or negative lights even if they stopped short of calling for their election or defeat. In 2003 the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion. He and Alito said only that the Wisconsin group’s ads are not the equivalent of explicit campaign ads and are not covered by the 2003 decision. Three justices, Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, would have overruled the court’s 2003 decision.

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  • Graeme Edgeler
  • July 8th, 2007
  • 2:49 pm

If they were trying to completely ban issue ads-proper they might; I’m not even sure they’re trying to ban “don’t vote for Labour” ads.

Given the way they seem to be headed, I suspect this decision of the Canadian Supreme Court will be of more interest:

http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/2004/2004scc33/2004scc33.html

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