Cases & Deals

Susan B. Anthony List prevails in defamation appeal by former Member of Congress

Client(s) Susan B. Anthony List

The Sixth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment to Jones Day client Susan B. Anthony List, a national pro-life advocacy organization, in a defamation suit pursued by former Member of Congress Steve Driehaus. Driehaus sued over advertisements during the 2010 congressional election campaign that criticized his support for the Affordable Care Act as a vote for taxpayer-funded abortion.

Although the District Court had originally allowed the defamation claim to go forward, Susan B. Anthony List then retained Jones Day, which filed a renewed motion and persuaded the District Court to reject the claim as a matter of law. Driehaus appealed, and in March 2015 the Sixth Circuit affirmed on the alternative ground -- also urged by Jones Day -- that the advertisement's statements "had some truth, were substantially true, or were subject to differing interpretations," any one of which was sufficient to defeat the claim.

Jones Day also represents Susan B. Anthony List in its constitutional challenge to Ohio's law criminalizing "false statements" about political candidates, which arose from the same underlying facts. Last year, the Supreme Court allowed that challenge to proceed, and the District Court invalidated the statute on First Amendment grounds in September 2014. The Ohio Elections Commission has appealed, and that matter remains pending before the Sixth Circuit.

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus et al., No. 13-3238 (6th Cir.)