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Monday, October 09, 2017

"Thanks, Iowa Supreme Court!"

Today in my Election Law class we covered state regulation of false or misleading campaign advertisements. (The doctrine is generally that even blatantly false ads enjoy First Amendment protection.) It is one of my favorite class periods of the semester because I show some pretty incredible political ads. The one below is perhaps the most outlandish. It aired during the Iowa judicial retention election in 2010, just after the Iowa Supreme Court had issued a ruling that effectively legalized same-sex marriage. The ad is worth two minutes of your time. (All three justices up for retention lost.)

(Although I find the ad amusing, I also think it's offensive and harmful.)

The debate during this class is always spirited, with some students arguing that the government should be allowed to regulate patently false campaign speech -- especially if it is about the election itself (such as "Republicans should vote on Tuesday; Democrats should vote on Wednesday") -- while other students take a more absolutist First Amendment approach. The debate has perhaps become even more interesting these days given the current tenor of our political discourse.

Posted by Josh Douglas on October 9, 2017 at 02:17 PM in Constitutional thoughts, Law and Politics | Permalink


I guess I don't understand how this ad is particularly outlandish - it makes a fairly standard slippery slope argument. I have certainly seen ads that were more blatantly false, such as ads in CA during the judicial retention election of 1986, in which claims were made that, in reversing death penalties, the CA Supreme Court was "letting killers back on the streets," when of course they were merely converting death penalties to life-without-parole sentences.

And, I agree with Joe that the ad is not very effective - 99% of viewers will probably tune out before it finally gets to its point.

Posted by: gdanning | Oct 10, 2017 11:25:21 AM

Took a bit too long to get where it was going.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 9, 2017 6:03:39 PM

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