The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn a new Delaware law that violates the First Amendment by placing unconstitutional burdens on groups that publish nonpartisan voter guides.
“The law requires groups to choose between publishing a voter guide or submitting to substantial regulatory burdens while violating the privacy of even their small-dollar supporters,” said Allen Dickerson, CCP’s Legal Director. “The result is less objective and useful information about Delawareans’ representatives in Washington and Dover.”
The Delaware law, which took effect in January, creates a new form of regulated speech known as a “third-party advertisement.” The law appears to subject groups that publish voter guides to the same regulatory and disclosure burdens as political committees and candidate committees.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Delaware Strong Families (DSF), which published a nonpartisan voter guide in 2012 and hopes to publish a similar guide next year. The lawsuit says “[a]bsent a declaratory judgment [by the court], DSF will not publish and disseminate its voter guides in 2014, for fear of risking enforcement of the Delaware Elections Disclosure Act. Thus, Delaware’s campaign finance regime—left untouched—will chill speech in a manner found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court” in the landmark 1976 decision of Buckley v. Valeo.