Judge tosses former Congressman’s lawsuit against pro-life group
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A former Congressman who sued the Susan B. Anthony List for losing his election in 2010 has lost his case.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black, an Obama appointee, admitted in his seven-page ruling that he could not “see the forest for the trees” when he originally allowed Driehaus' defamation lawsuit to go forward.
The former Cincinnati congressman, who identified as a “pro-life Democrat,” filed suit after SBA List threatened to take out billboards saying: “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion.”
Although the signs never went up, Driehaus said the allegation was false and cost him the midterm election.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires employers to cover “contraception” such as Plan B and Ella that can act as an abortifacient. As well, under the law insurance plans within the state health exchanges can cover abortions, with enrolees being required to pay a $1 surcharge specifically for abortion coverage.
Driehaus lost by a wide margin to his Republican challenger in 2010, the largest Congressional landslide in more than 70 years. Officials at SBA say Driehaus can thank himself and his unpopularity with Ohio voters for his electoral chastening.
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Judge Black allowed the lawsuit to move forward, causing federal authorities to seize the SBA List's computers as “evidence” last June. Ohio law considers making “false statement concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official” an actionable offense.
But Judge Black wrote on Friday that associating a politician with a mainstream view cannot be considered defamation, “even if it is false.” His ruling simultaneously vindicated the Susan B. Anthony List while insinuating their claims were inaccurate.
“While we’re pleased with the outcome, this was a protracted legal battle that was taxing on our resources and should never have happened in a country that enshrines free speech,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, SBA List president. “The blatant disregard for the First Amendment and the Constitutional right of people to speak out against the actions of those elected to represent them is unacceptable.”
“We made the voters in [Driehaus'] district aware of his vote, and there is nothing defaming about that.”