Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

The Ohio Elections Commission takes sides in campaign debates and can penalize those they disagree with.

The Commission issues rulings not about obvious libel or slander, but differing interpretations. Disagreements. Their authority derives from a decades-old election law outlawing “false statements” in election campaigns. A new court fight challenging the law may finally end this speech-squelching travesty.

Attorney James Bopp is fighting a defamation suit by a defeated candidate. This losing candidate snagged a favorable ruling from the Commission, preventing billboards critical of him from going up, but still wants a pound of flesh. Bopp observes that Ohio’s law against “false statements” is merely an unconstitutional weapon “that can be deployed during any election to try to stifle speech.”

Chris Finney, another lawyer who has represented clients suffering the OEC’s censorious attention, says what the Commission typically deals with “has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the statement in question [but with] trying to embarrass your opponent as Election Day approaches. You get a headline that says this person is a liar.”

Opposing conclusions can both be “right” . . . given contradictory interpretations of the same facts. The First Amendment is supposed to safeguard open debate about such disagreements — not extinguish it.

Would defenders of Ohio’s law cheer if editorial writers were routinely hauled before speech boards to defend the accuracy of their political assessments?

It’s a disgrace that Ohio’s false-statement law has been in effect for even one day, let alone decades.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Drik says:

    I expected better of Ohio.
    This is more like what we would expect from Illinois.

  2. Ken Warner says:

    This time I disagree, rare as that may happen.
    Those who make false statements about another person’s actions or words SHOULD be punished, and I believe, barred from ever serving in public office.
    The worst type of lie is an official lie, and if I could make it a felony punishable by corporeal punishment for a government employee to utter a false statement in ANY circumstance I would do it.
    While trusting the OEC to be accurate may be insanely hopeful – the concept is NOT wrong.

  3. Thanks, Dirk, Unfortunately, as an Ill resident (but maybe not for long), I have to agree with you. Paul will never run out of material to write about because there are idiots in every state, city, etc. Unbelieveable! And secondly, I have to ask what plane Mr. Warner is from. Has he ever read or heard any campaign statements in newspapers, magazines, radio, TV or leaflets? If so, he has seen many lies. We don’t have room in the jails or prisons to put everyone for campaign lies they tell–look at Obama as an example. It’s part of life Mr. Warner. If you can’t live with it, go back to your original planet where you apparently were living alone. And, lastly, the OEC has no business ruling on whether candidates comments are true or not. An election judge is not the same as a legal judge in case they did not know this.

  4. Ohio Got It Right! says:

    Ohio DID get it right! Lies are what has taken our country down this ugly road. Look at all the crazy lawsuits that are costing us money as taxpayers and as consumers! It is time to take a stand and demand that people act in a more dignified manner.

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