On April 28, the 8th circuit issued this 22-page opinion in 281 Care Committee v Arneson, 10-1558. In 2007, some groups opposed to certain local ballot measures to increase funding for public schools had sued in federal court, to overturn a Minnesota law that makes it a crime to knowingly or with reckless disregard for the truth to make a false statement about a proposed ballot measure. They had sued after they had been accused of breaking the law. The U.S. District Court had dismissed the lawsuit on procedural grounds.
The 8th circuit said there are no procedural problems with this lawsuit, and sent the case back to the U.S. District Court for a decision on the merits. The 8th circuit wrote, “The First Amendment does not allow the courts of appeals to decide whether a category of speech, on the whole, tends to contain socially worthless information…We do not, of course, hold today that a state may never regulate false speech in this context. Rather, we hold that it may only do so when it satisfies the First Amendment test required for content-based speech restrictions: that any regulation be narrowly tailored to meet a compelling government interest.” This decision is a good sign for the pending lawsuits in various states in the 8th circuit against laws that make it illegal for out-of-state circulators to work. Such lawsuits are pending in South Dakota and Nebraska. Thanks to Rick Hasen’s ElectionLawBlog for the link.