Washington Examiner: Judge oks ex-congressman's suit over lost job

This article first appeared online at the Washington Examiner on October 22, 2011.

Judge oks ex-congressman’s suit over lost job
By Barbara Hollingsworth

When 15 House pro-life Democrats joined Republicans earlier this month to pass the Protect Life Act amending the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act by explicitly prohibiting federal funding of abortion (or abortion coverage) because the Obamacare law does not, somebody should have told former Rep. Steve Driehaus and Ohio U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black.

Driehuas was the sore loser who sued the Alexandria-based Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life PAC, claiming that the group’s accusations that he voted to fund abortions when he voted for Obamacare resulted in his “loss of livelihood” — i.e., his defeat in the 2010 election.

The day after losing the election, Driehaus dropped his criminal complaint charging that the PAC had violated a precedent-shattering Ohio state law that makes it a crime to tell “malicious lies” about a public official.

Of course, one person’s “malicious lies” are another’s political speech. Fines and even prison sentences allowed under Ohio’s False Statement Law are tantamount to muzzling any speech that someone disagrees with, which is basically all political speech.

The SBA List is currently requesting permission to file an appeal challenging the law’s constitutionality on First Amendment grounds before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Voters in Ohio’s 1stDistrict retired Driehaus because he broke a promise not to vote for Obamacare unless it contained an explicit statutory ban on federal funding of abortions. The final law that Driehaus voted for lacks such a statutory exclusion — which has led the newly elected House to pass the Protect Life Act.

Driehaus’ defeat at the polls was a result of his own duplicity, not the result of SBA pointing it out. Nevertheless, on August 1 Judge Black ruled that Driehaus’ preposterous lawsuit should proceed to trial. The judge, an Obama appointee, is the former president and director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Cincinnati, according to answers on the questionaire he submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He probably should have recused himself from the case, since Planned Parenthood will be a major recipient of federal abortion funding if the House amendment doesn’t make it through the Senate.

“This case involves, for the very first time, the federal government subsidizing these plans that support policies that do provide abortion,” SBA List Marjorie Dannensfelser told The Examiner. “A majority in the House agrees with us that President Obama’s executive order did not address the problem of federal funding of abortion created in the Senate. The heated debate on this still going on,” she added.

“For our group to be accused of lying with malice just for stating the facts has such ramifications for anybody else who has a First Amendment right to criticize a public official without fear of a lawsuit.”

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