The Court Bides Its Time in Susan B. Anthony

June 17, 2014
posted by Bob Bauer
Granting the differences between the two cases,  it is somewhat remarkable that a Supreme Court in a hurry to affirm corporate free speech rights in Citizens United is proceeding at a leisurely pace, in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, in adjudicating the constitutionality of Ohio’s “false campaign statement” law.  Maybe any complaint along those lines should yield to relief that the Court decided the case—a political campaign case!—unanimously.   And as Rick Hasen has pointed out, the safest bet was that the Court would do as it did, clearing the way for a pre-enforcement challenge while putting off judgment on the core constitutional issue.
Category: The Supreme Court
The State of Ohio is playing for time in its defense of its “false campaign statements” statute. It wants the case now before the Supreme Court decided on ripeness, win or lose; it wants to hold off a decision on the constitutionality of its law.  Some, Rick Hasen among them, believe that this might work.  But then again, it might not, and the law could well be put out to pasture without further ado.  The petitioner has argued in clear terms that the law is unconstitutional and that, on this point, the recent decision in United States v. Alvarez is dispositive.  Petition for Writ of Certiorari at 6-7, Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 134 S.Ct. 895 (2014) (No. 13-193).  And the Court could agree, motivated as well to spare the petitioner another expensive, time-consuming tour through the courts to win the victory that it is virtually guaranteed.