Finney Law Firm notches another First Amendment win

The second in a series of cases arising from the twin wins of the Finney Law Firm at the United States Supreme Court came back before Judge Michael Barrett two weeks ago on cross motions for summary judgment (the Supreme Court proceeding having resolved only the standing issue).

This second case, COAST v. Ohio Elections Commission, addressed whether the Ohio Elections Commission — a politically appointed body — can sit in judgment of statements made during the course of a ballot issue campaign.

Yesterday, Judge Barrett decided they cannot — at least preliminarily, finding that the Plaintiffs have a high likelihood of success on the merits of the case.  Judge Barrett’s short decision on Plaintiffs Motion for Preliminary Injunction, is here.   Judge Barrett has promised a longer decision on the motion for permanent injunction at a later date.

This decision follows closely on the heels of the decision by Judge Timothy Black in Susan B. Anthony List v. Ohio Elections Commission striking  down a companion statute in Ohio allowing judgment and punishment by the Ohio Elections Commission of statements made during campaigns for candidates for public office.  His decision permanently enjoining that statute is here.  The Ohio Elections Commission has appealed that decision to the 6th Circuit, and it is possible that one or both of these cases will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court again.

We will keep you informed of developments in these two cases as they occur.