- - Friday, September 12, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The First Amendment is so clear, so simple, and so direct that only a politician could misunderstand it. But law and common sense prevailed in Ohio last week when a federal judge ruled that the government has no business creating a “truth squad” to decide what’s true and what’s not.

The Supreme Court in June had encouraged a trial judge to resolve with speed a lawsuit filed by the Susan B. Anthony List against the Ohio Elections Commission to prohibit enforcement of an Ohio law that empowered the commission to imprison or fine anyone making a “false statement” in a political ad.

A Democratic congressman, Steve Driehaus, now out of office, had sued the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List after it put up billboards highlighting Mr. Driehaus’ vote for Obamacare, saying it was a vote for taxpayer-funded abortion. President Obama, after all, had said emphatically that Obamacare would never fund abortions, just as he said everyone would be able to keep their favorite doctors and health plans.

The congressman apparently imagined that settled it. U.S. Judge Timothy S. Black said no, that at times there is no clear way to determine whether a political statement is a lie or “the truth.” Indeed, wise voters are wary of all claims.

PolitiFact, a feature by The Tampa Bay Times that examines campaign charge and countercharge and decides what’s right and who’s wrong, earlier this month rated as “true” President Obama’s claim that he had “cut our deficits by more than half.”

But let’s see: When Mr. Obama assumed office the deficit stood at $458 billion. In that year, he stimulated debt to a budget-breaking $1.4 trillion and overspent by a trillion dollars a year after year until parsimonious House Republicans succeeded in applying a little restraint in 2013, which Mr. Obama did not want. The only deficit he cut in half was the deficit he had tripled. The deficit was still $679 billion.

There’s no longer any doubt that Obamacare won’t let Americans keep their doctors or health plans. The administration is even trying to require Christian groups and businessmen to bankroll abortions, against both conscience and will. Liberals could appeal Judge Black’s sensible decision, but it would probably be a waste of time. The Supreme Court didn’t reach the merits of the case in June, but the court has shown a welcome tilt in favor of the First Amendment. Sometimes the system really does work.

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