Amicus Brief: Worley v. Florida Secretary of State

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Can Florida use red tape to block citizens from running a small radio ad buy?  The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) and Cato Institute filed a friend of the court brief urging the US Supreme Court to review an appeals court ruling that upheld a complex Florida law that generates excessive red tape for small groups of speakers.

The case is Worley v. Florida Secretary of Stateand involves Floridian Andrew Worley who, along with three other individuals, wanted to spend $600 on radio ads opposing a proposed amendment to his state’s constitution. Under Florida law, individuals cannot speak out in this way unless they form a political committee—a separate entity which must, among other things, organize, register with the state, name a treasurer, submit to random audits, file detailed reports at regular intervals, and comply with various other burdens.  Worley and his friends found the red tape too much to untangle in order to run a few simple radio ads in his community.

Worley has appealed a decision by the Eleventh Circuit to convert the as-applied challenged to Florida’s PAC registration and reporting requirements into a facial challenge of the law based upon a hypothetical question asked at oral argument.  By converting the as-applied challenge into a facial challenge, the Court unfairly shifted the burden of demonstrating that the burdens of Florida’s PAC laws are unconstitutional in all possible cases to the plaintiff, Mr. Worley.

The brief argues that, “This Court should grant the petition for certiorari to address the Judiciary’s duty to meaningfully review as-applied challenges to laws burdening fundamental First Amendment rights” particularly because “PAC status burdens speech more fundamentally than does mere ‘disclosure,’ and the Eleventh Circuit below failed to consider this burden in assessing the Florida law’s constitutionality.”

Download the PDF file .

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