Thursday, September 8, 2005


From the Seattle Times comes a story that leaves me, well, uncertain. The story (Truth-in-campaign law struck down) details a decision by an appeals court in the state of Washington.

After the first paragraph, I was aghast.
A state law prohibiting political candidates from lying about their opponents is an unconstitutional violation of free speech and chills political discourse, a state appeals court ruled yesterday.
The court ruled that the law does not include some provisions of the related libel/slander laws that require that a plaintiff to prove that they were damaged by the false claims, and added that "because the law allows candidates to "proclaim falsehoods about themselves", the state cannot argue that the law meets its interest "in promoting integrity and honesty in the elections process."

So, I'm left sort of agreeing with the court; it sounds like this was a flawed law, especially if it allowed candidates to lie about themselves. But, still, shouldn't we expect some standards?

Apparently not. The appeals court used an earlier state Supreme Court Ruling in which the justices wrote:
"In this field every person must be his own watchman for truth, because the forefathers did not trust any government to separate the true from the false for us."
I guess I agree with that, but I'd still like some way to punish candidates who lie in election campaigns.

Stoning them seems too extreme. I guess we need to step up our efforts at public ridicule.

1 comment:

tortcaesar said...

your remedy is... don't vote for them. losing the election is the ultimate punishment for any candidate who lies egregiously. what if they both lie? well, then vote for the least offender, and then vote them out of office next time. remember janet reznicki? her lies caused her to lose twice, one against Carper, and then finally, against Markell.

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