18 October 2008

Judge Blocks W.Va. Election Ad Rules as Unconstitutional. Again.

The bulk of the Legislature's attempted fix of rules regulating political ads failed to pass muster Friday with a federal judge, The Associated Press reports.

"Johnston's order blocks the state from barring corporation-funded ads that use 'express advocacy' as defined as language that 'When considered in its entirety, the communication can only be interpreted by a reasonable person as advocating the election or defeat of one or more clearly identified candidates,'" AP explains.

It does leave a portion of the legislation's "express advocacy" ban intact, but "as with the federal ruling issued in April, Johnston's order rolls back the disclosure requirement for election-time ads to spots that air on radio and broadcast, cable and satellite TV," AP reports.

Legislative Republicans had been almost uniformly against the June special session measure.

"Certainly we had those concerns when the bill was brought before the Legislature," House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, told AP. "I think we all felt we were all for disclosure but we wanted the type of disclosure that would hold constitutional scrutiny."

"Lawyers for the Center for Individual Freedom and West Virginians for Life challenged the law," the article said. "Both groups want to weigh in on the state Supreme Court race, while the center has also targeted state Attorney General Darrell McGraw in prior ads. But each said they would not if they had to disclose their contributors."

The Charleston Gazette also reports on Friday's ruling.

Update: Secretary of State Betty Ireland, as the state's chief elections officer, plans to appeal Friday's and is seeking a stay, AP and MetroNews report. She argues that "The relief granted by the injunction effectively rewrites West Virginia’s election law some 17 days before the general election, which will undoubtedly result in a free-for-all of mud-slinging campaign attack ads by special interest groups that have no duty to report their expenditures or their sources of funding."


Anonymous said...

I'll bet if some lawyers were elected to the Legislature that this would never happen.

clear eyes said...

What did the Secretary of State expect when the legislature rewrote election law just months before the election along party lines in an attempt to help a corrupt Attourney General win reelection? Certainly, the law would be contested and likely overturned just as its predecessor was.