Supreme Court Takes Up Another Obamacare-Related Case

An anti-Obamacare ad sparked a battle over political speech.

The U.S. flag flies in front of the West Front of the Supreme Court Building on August 7, 2009 in Washington, D.C. Judge Sonia Sotomayor will be sworn in as the 111th justice of the Supreme Court on Saturday.
National Journal
Sam Baker
Jan. 10, 2014, 11:19 a.m.

The Su­preme Court on Fri­day agreed to hear a case chal­len­ging lim­its on polit­ic­al speech, which grew out of an at­tack ad over Obama­care and abor­tion.

It all star­ted in 2010, when the Susan B. An­thony List, an an­ti­abor­tion group, tried to put up a bill­board at­tack­ing then-Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio. The bill­board said Driehaus “voted FOR tax­pay­er-fun­ded abor­tion” by sup­port­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Driehaus tried to block the ad un­der an Ohio law that pro­hib­its mak­ing “a false state­ment con­cern­ing a can­did­ate,” and SBA List countered by chal­len­ging that pro­hib­i­tion as an un­con­sti­tu­tion­al re­stric­tion on free speech.

That’s what the Su­preme Court will weigh when it hears the case, likely some time in its next term.

Lower courts dis­missed SBA List’s suit. The ad nev­er ran, and Driehaus lost any­way, so the is­sue was nev­er fully ad­ju­dic­ated un­der Ohio elec­tion law. Be­cause Ohio’s elec­tion com­mis­sion nev­er took any en­force­ment ac­tion against SBA List, the group couldn’t pro­ceed with its law­suit, the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the 6th Cir­cuit ruled last spring.

The Ohio chapter of the Amer­ic­an Civil Liber­ties Uni­on has sided with SBA List, ar­guing in sup­port­ing briefs that Ohio’s ban on false state­ments is a vi­ol­a­tion of the First Amend­ment.

It will be the high court’s third Obama­care-re­lated case: The justices up­held the law’s in­di­vidu­al man­date in 2012 and will hear ar­gu­ments in March over its con­tra­cep­tion man­date.

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