Lying OK in Political Ads

The Olympian has the story about the state Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that strikes a law that made lying in campaign ads illegal.

The court sided with former Green Party candidate Marylou Rickert of Shelton, whose brochure included statements about Sen. Tim Sheldon that were judged untrue by the state Public Disclosure Commission.

The case was decided on a split 5-to-4 ruling. Justice Jim Johnson wrote the majority opinion, which said the state law was unconstitutional.

“The notion that the government, rather than the people, may be the final arbiter of truth in political debate is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment,” Johnson wrote.

Justice Barbara Madsen wrote the dissent that said the majority ruling “is an invitation to lie with impunity.” She wrote that it was wrong to say “oppressive government regulation is at issue in this case.”

“When cases decided by the United States Supreme Court are properly applied, it is obvious that (the challenged law) infringes on no First Amendment rights,’’ Madsen wrote in a 30-page decision supported by Justices Bobbe Bridge, Tom Chambers and Mary Fairhurst.

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