Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ohio Elections Commission tramples First Amendment; Judiciary refuses to do its job

We regret to inform our loyal COAST blog readers that Ohio is under a tyrannical regime of laws enacted by the legislature and enforced by the Ohio Elections Commission that severely impairs our First Amendment rights. Further, state and federal courts refuse to rein them in, leaving the tyrants on the Ohio Elections Commission completely unchecked in trampling First Amendment protections of Ohio political activists of all colors.

As background, the Ohio General Assembly and the Ohio Elections Commission have an embarrassing history of ignoring First Amendment liberties, causing repeated instances where they needed to be slapped down by the United States Supreme Court, including the landmark decision of McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission in which the Court held that an Ohio statute that prohibits anonymous political or campaign literature is unconstitutional (though the Ohio Supreme Court had ruled that such a law was constitutional.). 

Two recent decisions cause COAST pronounced concern that the Ohio Elections Commission is completely out of control, and, worse, the Courts refuse to do anything to rein them in.
  • Corsi v. Ohio Elections Commission.  Edmund Corsi operated a web site, for which he paid from his own pocket, the Geauga Constitutional Council.  Corsi also joined with others in the Constitutional Council to leaflet in the community on issues of importance to them. The Ohio Supreme Court upheld the statutory definition of a Political Action Committee, requiring the Constitutional Council to designate a treasurer, place the Treasurer's name and address on political literature, and file campaign finance reports.  The importance of the decision is that any group of two or more individuals who organize to influence the outcome of elections must file as a PAC and comply with PAC regulations even if they raise no funds.  There is no state in the union that has a law this draconian.
  • Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus (COAST is also a party in this suit). Here, once again, the Ohio Elections Commission is spinning out of control in its enforcement of Ohio's "False Claims Statute."  In this case, the Ohio Elections Commission found probable cause that the Susan B. Anthony List made false claims when it publicized that then-Congresman Steve Driehaus voted to allow taxpayer dollars to be used for abortions by voting for ObamaCare.  Even Attorney General Mike DeWine filed an amicus brief asking that the statute be thrown out, and yet the trial court and the 6h Circuit Court of Appeals even refused to analyze the statute, claiming that there was no jurisdiction for them to hear the claim.  This and other decisions have given the Ohio Elections Commission free reign to terrorize anyone who dares to engage in political speech in Ohio.  Will you be next?
It appears the only way the Ohio Elections Commission will be reined in is if the legislature changes the plaining unconstitutional statues it enforces, or if the Governor starts appointing members who have some understanding of the Constitution.

The Ohio Elections Commission is an inquisitional body with unchecked authority.  We all should fear its over-reaching intrusion into what formerly was known as "free speech."

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