- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A federal judge has struck down as unconstitutional a 91-year-old Rhode Island law banning the distribution of anonymous negative campaign literature.

U.S. District Chief Judge William E. Smith sided with the Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the law on behalf of Smithfield resident John Blakeslee.

The Providence Journal reports (https://bit.ly/1t4x1MQ ) that Smith cited U.S. Supreme Court precedent saying that under the Constitution, anonymous pamphleteering is not a pernicious, fraudulent practice, but is an honorable tradition of advocacy and dissent.

Blakeslee sued Smithfield’s police chief, Smithfield and the state attorney general’s office, asking the court to declare the law unconstitutional.

The lawsuit stemmed from the arrest of a Democratic campaign consultant in March 2013 over a flier citing a police report and the arrest of town Republicans over vandalized signs.

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Information from: The Providence Journal, https://www.providencejournal.com


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