CFIF Sues Against Pennsylvanian Speech Law

CFIF names as defendants Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Secretary of State, and several local District Attorneys, each of whom was asked and refused to embrace a bright line test.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 9. 2007

CENTER FOR INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM SUES TO STRIKE DOWN PENNSYLVANIA SPEECH RESTRICTION

ALEXANDRIA, VA — The Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) last week filed a lawsuit to hold unconstitutional a Pennsylvania law that forbids independent issue ads during election periods.

CFIF filed its complaint in the United States District Court in Philadelphia, alleging that Pennsylvania's vague and overbroad statute forbidding corporations and organizations to pay for ads disseminated "in connection with the election of any candidate or for any political purpose whatever" violates the First Amendment.

"Voters are most attuned to public issue discussions at election time, but the  Pennsylvania statute, which threatens serious penalties, makes it too risky to run issue ads then," explained Renee Giachino, CFIF's Senior Vice President and General Counsel. 

In 2006, CFIF prevailed in a similar lawsuit against a Louisiana statute almost identical to that of Pennsylvania.

"The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that laws forbidding spending for speech must provide a bright line and objective standard so speakers know in advance precisely what is permitted," said Mrs. Giachino, "but legislators impose fuzzy rules that threaten and chill a wide range of speech they could not directly and specifically forbid." 

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans agreed with CFIF and limited Louisiana's statute to speech that expressly advocated the election or defeat of identified candidates, a standard the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly has endorsed.  The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Louisiana's appeal, allowing the appeals court decision to stand.

CFIF seeks a prompt hearing and a preliminary injunction to assure that it is able to prepare and run issue ads this coming September and October, before the November elections.  CFIF names as defendants Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Secretary of State, and several local District Attorneys, each of whom was asked and refused to embrace a bright line test.

CFIF is represented by Jan Witold Baran, Thomas W. Kirby, and Caleb P. Burns of the Washington, D.C. firm Wiley Rein LLP, and by John F. Smith, III and R. Clayton Alspach of the Philadelphia, PA law firm Reed Smith LLP.



[Posted July 13, 2007
[About CFIF]  [Freedom Line]  [Legal Issues]  [Legislative Issues]  [We The People]  [Donate]  [Home]  [Search]  [Site Map]
2000 Center For Individual Freedom, All Rights Reserved. CFIF Privacy Statement
Designed by Wordmarque Design Associates
Legal Issues News Protection for individual freedom provided by the rule of law news Educating the public through legal commentary news Latest legal issues affecting individual freedoms news Official legal websites news Supreme Court Docket Summary By Thomas Goldstein news Humorous court case news