Candidate false statement laws and the First Amendment
Feinberg, Amy Marie
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Since the early 1900s, states have enacted laws to prohibit false statements about candidates in elections. These laws have in some states been overturned more than once, as state assemblies often choose to pass slightly modified versions of these laws after unfavorable judicial outcomes. In the wake of the 2014 Supreme Court decision in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, this thesis examines why states continue to seek to adopt statutes to criminalize false statements about political candidates. This work identifies three reasons prompting the actions of most states: a desire to protect candidates, to protect voters, and to protect the elections process itself, but ultimately concludes that these statutes, while perhaps well-intentioned, are ultimately unlikely to be constitutional.