Ohio Right to Life Society v. Ohio Elections Commission

The Court’s pending ruling in Citizens United v. FEC may directly impact Ohio Right to Life (ORTL) v. Ohio Elections Commission in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. The Center for Competitive Politics, along with Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan, & Aronoff, is representing ORTL in its challenge of state “electioneering communications” regulations. Last September, the court granted ORTL a preliminary injunction, freeing the court to engage in issue advocacy in the 2008 general election. The court ruled that Ohio couldn’t bar ads near elections that didn’t meet the Wisconsin v. Right to Life v. FEC (WRTL II) test of express advocacy. The court also prevented the state from enforcing certain source prohibitions (from unions and corporations) on such ads. The third prong of ORTL is what Citizens United may determine — whether Ohio’s electioneering communications disclosure law is unconstitutional as applied to any ad that doesn’t meet the WRTL II express advocacy test of being “susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.”

Court Filing & Rulings
Download file Ohio Right to Life Society v. Ohio Elections Commission Complaint
 Download file Preliminary injunction ruling
Press Releases
Press Release to Ohio Media
Press Release to National Media
Press Release on Preliminary Injunction ruling
“U.S. District Court Strikes Ohio’s Limits On Corporate Funding of Pre-Election Ads” ($) Bureau of National Affairs (9/10/08)

“Ohio Right to Life wins court ruling allowing advocacy groups to use names of political candidates within 30 days election” PolitickerOH (9/09/08)
Online & Blogs
More Soft Money Hard Law (Bob Bauer) (5/21/08): The Center for Competitive Politics, hoping to expand the protections afforded issue advertising by WRTL II, has chosen Ohio for the next field of battle and reporting requirements are its primary target.  Ohio’s law also subjects the advertising to source restrictions, within thirty days of an election, but CCP has the fresh club of WRTL II to bat these away, on behalf of Ohio Right to Life. The reporting issues represent the true frontier here, and CCP has picked its fight carefully…The additional claim against reporting is… framed with care in its ComplaintIf it wins, however, it will have won more than a skirmish


The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.