SBA List v. Driehaus: The lawsuit that led the ACLU to side with a pro-life group

posted at 6:25 pm on October 18, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Protect Life Act by a vote of 251 to 172. (Actually, Nancy Pelosi would say the House voted to let “women die on the floor,” but that’s just Pelosi for you.) The bi-partisan bill — co-sponsored by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Penn.) — ensures that no taxpayer dollars appropriated under Obamacare will go toward abortion funding.

Interesting that 251 members of the House thought the bill necessary at all. After all, in the midst of the heated health care debate, the president issued a non-binding executive order that applies anti-abortion-funding language to his signature Affordable Care Act. Technically, that’s enough to prevent taxpayer funding of abortions, yes?

No – and the president has always known that. As the ever-stalwart Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) explained last week, “Despite liberal claims, Obamacare does not prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to take unborn human life.  President Obama’s Executive Order can be revoked at any time by this or another occupant of the White House.”

The EO just provided a thin cover for pro-life Democrats who initially demanded that PPACA include language explicitly banning federal abortion funding — but then, even when no such language was included in the bill, caved and voted for Obamacare anyway.

Pro-life voters never fell for it — and, in the dramatic reversal of the 2010 elections, 15 of 20 supposedly pro-life Democratic incumbents who cast a “yes” vote for Obamacare lost their seats. (Incidentally, Lipinski — the lone pro-life D who voted against PPACA — won his reelection handily.)

Steve Driehaus of Ohio was one of the 15 who failed to recapture his seat. But, unlike his 14 fellow losers, he didn’t take the loss lying down. Rather than confront reality, he promptly sued the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group that, during the 2010 campaigns, repeatedly pointed out Driehaus’ hypocritical vote for Obamacare.

Driehaus alleged the SBA List cost him his livelihood by defaming him. He invoked the Ohio False Statement Law, which allows state officials to impose stiff fines on anyone who has issued false criticism of a political candidate. In this case, the “false” criticism in question was SBA List’s campaign to educate voters about Driehaus’ pro-abortion-funding vote for Obamacare.

The SBA List responded by filing a challenge to the Ohio False Statement Law, suggesting it chills speech. Refreshingly, they were joined in this opinion by the ACLU of Ohio, whose lawyers closely echoed the sentiments expressed by SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser.

Here’s Dannenfelser in a statement: “No politician, bureaucracy, or court should have the power to silence the right of citizens to criticize elected officials. Ohio’s False Statement Law allows candidates like Steve Driehaus to silence any speech critical of them by simply filing a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission. Then, when the election is over, the candidates can dismiss their complaint so the law cannot be reviewed by the federal courts.  An unelected commission should not have the ability to decide what is true and false speech, nor tell us what speech we can and cannot hear.”

And here’s the ACLU of Ohio: “The people have an absolute right to criticize their public officials, the government should not be the arbiter of true or false speech and the best answer for bad speech is more speech.”

So far, though, not even the tag team of SBA List and the ACLU have been able to put an end to Driehaus’ case. On August 1 of this year, a federal judge ruled the case should go to trial — and dismissed SBA List’s challenge to the Ohio False Statement Law.

With the House passage of the Protect Life Act, Driehaus’ argument grows ever thinner. Does he want to say his former colleagues in the House have defamed him, as well? For, with their votes, they’re saying essentially what SBA List has said the entire time: Without explicit legislative language banning Obamacare funds from going toward abortions, PPACA does, in fact, provide for taxpayer-funded abortions.

Driehaus should drop the case — but, as he won’t, we’ll have to hope SBA List wins its appeal in the Sixth Circuit Court of Ohio. The case has implications for free speech everywhere.


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As a lifelong ohioan, and as someone who used to live in boehner’s district (due north of driehaus)… I am still thankful that jerk lost his re-election bid.

Plus, the guy who replaced him ain’t half bad. DeMint he ain’t… but he’s a decent guy.

knob on October 18, 2011 at 6:32 PM

It’s an impossible goal.

ObamaCare allows for more folks to qualify for programs like CaliCare which is California’s name for their State-run, but federally funded Medicare and CaliCare pays for abortion services for lower income participants.

Opposite Day on October 18, 2011 at 6:32 PM

Dudes, that law is awesome. Sarah Palin and Bachman should move to Ohio and sue everyone.

joeindc44 on October 18, 2011 at 6:33 PM

Opposite Day – it’s called MediCal

JEM on October 18, 2011 at 6:38 PM

“Despite liberal claims, Obamacare does not prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to take unborn human life.”

Now that’s just crazy talk…

/

Seven Percent Solution on October 18, 2011 at 6:38 PM

The DA and County Attorney in St Louis, MO, need to see this. In 2008, they threatened to criminally charge anyone saying naughty things about their boyfriend.

Blake on October 18, 2011 at 6:39 PM

I am glad to see the ACLU is supporting the Right to Life! Who knew?

Khun Joe on October 18, 2011 at 6:44 PM

SBA is a great organization.

tim c on October 18, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Driehaus alleged the SBA List cost him his livelihood by defaming him.

He wants to silence people who point out his actual record because the voters don’t like it.

If you listen closely you can hear the Supreme Court laughing its collective ass off.

amerpundit on October 18, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Will never pass the senate, and will never be signed into law. Useless effort on a stupid bill.

mythicknight on October 18, 2011 at 7:16 PM

When GOP baggers run out of ideas, they return to the abortion debate for a fresh hit off the moral indignation bong.

Pointless.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Driehaus alleged the SBA List cost him his livelihood by defaming him.

His livelihood? Don’t people go into elected offices knowing that it can be a horse race? You win some , you lose some, but it’s not a guaranteed job for life.

My advice to him is…GET A JOB and stop bellyaching. You lost because of your vote. You were warned. So suck it up, ya big cry baby.

capejasmine on October 18, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Useless effort on a stupid bill.

mythicknight on October 18, 2011 at 7:16 PM

Not at all, it helps hang a few more house Dems out to dry. That’s always a good cause!

Tim Zank on October 18, 2011 at 7:28 PM

When GOP baggers run out of ideas, they return to the abortion debate for a fresh hit off the moral indignation bong.

Pointless.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Again, not at all pointless as it exposes a few more blood thirsty infant killing Dems each time it’s brought forth.

Tim Zank on October 18, 2011 at 7:31 PM

When GOP baggers run out of ideas, they return to the abortion debate for a fresh hit off the moral indignation bong.

Pointless.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Why are you morally ok with killing babies?

capejasmine on October 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM

it exposes a few more blood thirsty infant killing Dems each time it’s brought forth.

Tim Zank on October 18, 2011 at 7:31 PM

… and their Bible-thumping, premarital-sexin’, getting-abortions-by-the-thousands Republican wives and daughters, too, right?

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM

and their Bible-thumping, premarital-sexin’, getting-abortions-by-the-thousands Republican wives and daughters, too, right?

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM

Pal, I have no use for anyone that rips a baby out of it’s womb with a forceps and snaps it’s neck regardless their political affiliation.

Tim Zank on October 18, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Why are you morally ok with killing babies?

capejasmine on October 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM

That’s something so-called “conservatives” should be asking themselves. And while you’re at it, maybe work on that marriage thing a bit, since you suck at it.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:42 PM

That’s something so-called “conservatives” should be asking themselves. And while you’re at it, maybe work on that marriage thing a bit, since you suck at it.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Thanks for sharing, but shouldn’t you being occupying someplace?

Tim Zank on October 18, 2011 at 7:43 PM

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Well, better to suck at something, than just plain suck. Eh?

capejasmine on October 18, 2011 at 7:47 PM

Pal, I have no use for anyone that rips a baby out of it’s womb with a forceps and snaps it’s neck regardless their political affiliation.

Tim Zank on October 18, 2011 at 7:42 PMGood for you. You’re a now a member of the majority of Human-Beings-Who-Don’t-Kill-Babies Club. Next you’ll be applying for sainthood?

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:47 PM

When GOP baggers run out of ideas, they return to the abortion debate for a fresh hit off the moral indignation bong.

Pointless.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Read the post. Driehaus initiated this legal action. SBA is entitled to vigorously defend against it. It’s his problem (and yours) that you don’t like a counterpunch.

Driehaus is a douche. He represented the district just west of mine. It was a joy to see that tool go.

Two delicious sidebars. Although the Ohio GOP’s redistricting plan has been contested, Driehaus’s district will invariably be reshaped to add some GOP neighborhoods to make a comeback more difficult. Also, on a state level, his wife is a state legislator and, I believe, the Ohio GOP will essentially fold her district into that of another so that she’ll face a primary against an established Dem, and, if she overcomes that hurdle, she’ll face a GOP opponent in a district with increased GOP voters.

Paybacks are a b*tch.

BuckeyeSam on October 18, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Well, better to suck at something, than just plain suck. Eh?

capejasmine on October 18, 2011 at 7:47 PM

Ok, Ok, I’ll move my E6 king right in front of your D7 queen: “Are you saying that I suck?”

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:53 PM

Thanks for sharing, but shouldn’t you being occupying someplace?

Tim Zank on October 18, 2011 at 7:43 PM

Hot Air needs some cool truths occasionally, so I think I’ll stay here. Besides, so far the owners — who are wrong about 95% of everything else — have tolerated my presence, to their credit.

If some of my fellow libertarian-leaning liberals were patient enough to wait for the registration days, there’d be more of us here.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:59 PM

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Besides, you need to make the most out of your recent $5,500 acquisition, right?

Phil-351 on October 18, 2011 at 8:32 PM

And while you’re at it, maybe work on that marriage thing a bit, since you suck at it.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:42 PM

I’m not going to defend the divorce record for any part of America, but do conservatives really have anyone to match the likes of John Edwards?

There are good and bad apples in all barrels but the left seems to be leading the charge against even trying to take marriage seriously.

What, in particular, are you thinking of anyway?

Pythagoras on October 18, 2011 at 9:00 PM

bifidis
Why are you here except to trollishly antagonize the world?

If you value human life so little what are your views on capitol punishment?

Too much of society screams loudly about the “bloodshed” of capitol punishment yet have little aversion to extolling the virtues of infanticide.

RealityCheck4 on October 18, 2011 at 9:33 PM

That’s something so-called “conservatives” should be asking themselves. And while you’re at it, maybe work on that marriage thing a bit, since you suck at it.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:42 PM

28 years and happier than ever, also completely faithful throughout, including 21 years in the Navy.

Grow up, and find something useful to speak about.

Freelancer on October 18, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Most of the State Level ACLU’s are actually pretty good, it is the National ACLU that is the big problem…..

the_ancient on October 18, 2011 at 10:10 PM

Proud to say I know the SBA folks…honored to have done work with them…and look forward to working with them again…they will win this…

DCJeff on October 18, 2011 at 10:34 PM

Ok, Ok, I’ll move my E6 king right in front of your D7 queen: “Are you saying that I suck?”

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:53 PM

King can’t move into check.

You fail.

BobMbx on October 18, 2011 at 10:50 PM

Can you imagine what Thomas, Alito and Scalia would write in response to this law? The SCOTUS files would be radioactive for a century. As to how Ginsburg, Sotamayor, and Kagan would rule, they would either have to side with the conservative or beclown themselves in ways heretofore unimagined. That, in truth, would be a sad day for the Court and the Republic.

njcommuter on October 19, 2011 at 1:14 AM

Excellent post, Tina! This is a very important story HA should follow.

Renwaa on October 19, 2011 at 5:38 AM

When GOP baggers run out of ideas, they return to the abortion debate for a fresh hit off the moral indignation bong.

Pointless.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:27 PM

This is a major free speech issue and abortion (and whether the law has changed allowing the Fed Gov to pay for it) is irrelevant to the case, hence the ACLU involvement. Too bad you’re too dense to see it for what it is. We have a sore loser Democrat who just can’t accept the voters didn’t buy his pro-life lies anymore, and voted him democratically out of office. You know, speaking truth to power? Oh, I remember how that was all the rage just a few years ago……

Renwaa on October 19, 2011 at 5:47 AM

When GOP baggers run out of ideas, they return to the abortion debate for a fresh hit off the moral indignation bong.

Pointless.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Unlike those brilliant liberals whose only argument is “tax the rich that will solve all our problems”.

Monkeytoe on October 19, 2011 at 7:57 AM

That our vile POS Congressvermin, Dipsh!t Donnelly (IN-3rd) helped Turdboy pass this craptastic bill is bad enough. That the Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend gave him cover (he’s a supposed Catholic) is absolutely reprehensible. When I asked about it they gave me a weasel-worded explanation that danced around the issue. Stinking cowards. I will never forgive them for that.

SKYFOX on October 19, 2011 at 8:00 AM

When GOP baggers run out of ideas, they return to the abortion debate for a fresh hit off the moral indignation bong.

Pointless.

bifidis on October 18, 2011 at 7:27 PM

This is about a man who ‘connected’ himself to a Catholic University and then ran ‘promising’ to NOT vote for Obamacare if it allowed abortion coverage. SBA simply paid for a sign during his re-election that said – ‘He Lied’.

That is free speech (read the 1st Amendment – it is about political speech) and the sign was truthful – which can’t be said about 99% of the political ads going.

The district that Driehaus ran in is very conservative – as even the Dems here are Catholic and take if very seriously (I know it doesn’t seem to be a coherent political thought process – it is what it is).

And my wife had two dealings with Drihaus – says he is a snotty little jerk. Hence the lawsuit that he initiated after losing to the guy who held the seat before him – Driehaus probably won in the first place on the city voters who just voted straight down the Dem ticket.

jackal40 on October 19, 2011 at 9:29 AM

“Driehaus alleged the SBA List cost him his livelihood by defaming him.”

This is the chilling statement: the fact that Driehaus considers being an elected official his livelihood is more disturbing than any of his other beliefs.

allstonian on October 19, 2011 at 11:52 AM