The Right to Lie – Freedom of Speech in 2014

The Nation well knows that one of the costs of the First Amendment is that it protects the speech we detest as well as the speech we embrace. United States v. Alvarez, 132 S.Ct. 2537 (2012).

On Tuesday, April 22, 2014, the United State Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case of Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus.  In short, if it is found that Susan B. Anthony List (“SAB List”) (a pro-life, nonprofit organization) has standing, then the question that will be before the Court is whether a law that criminalizes false speech about a political candidate is constitutional or if it is a violation of our American Right to Free Speech.

On the side of SAB List is a long-standing legal tradition in our country of an extreme dislike for limiting free speech, especially when that particular type of speech is discriminated against due to it’s content.  For instance, the United State’s Supreme Court ruled in the case of United States v. Alvarez that the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which made it a crime to falsely claim one has received a military decoration, was unconstitutional (full court opinion can be read here).

It should be mentioned that in Alvarez, the Court took notice that there are situations where the freedom of speech can be constitutionally limited (such as speech that causes harm, defamation and threats being examples).  Two possible questions this case could boil down to in SAB List v. Drihaus is (1) does the speech at issue cause harm that we need to prohibit, and (2) is the law at issue the correct way to do it?  At least to the second question, the law has its work cut out for it – restrictions of speech based upon that speech’s content is subject to an extremely heightened scrutiny in this country, one that few laws ever survive.


The author of TNLawyerLee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know need an attorney, please click herefor Mr. Lee’s contact information and contact him today for a free consultation.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website, or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

Copyright © 2014. Nicholas W. Lee, Attorney at Law. All rights reserved. This site’s content may not be used without the prior written consent of Nicholas Lee.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s