Skip to content

Note: First Amendment and the Right to Lie: Regulating Knowingly False Campaign Speech After United States v. Alvarez

By Staci Lieffring. Full text here.

With the people relying more and more on political advertising to inform them about candidates and elections, it is imperative to try to stop or limit false speech about candidates and the election procedures. False speech undermines the integrity of elections. This has led some states to enact laws banning false campaign materials. The problem that arises with these types of statutes is the First Amendment right to free speech, especially political speech. Recently, the Supreme Court has given more protection to false speech by striking down the Stolen Valor Act as unconstitutional because lies about military service are protected by the First Amendment. Even though the State has a compelling interest to protect the integrity of its elections, the Court has suggested little or no ban on political speech, even if false, would be found constitutional. This Note explores the different ways in which to strike an appropriate balance between the State’s interest in maintaining election integrity and a citizen’s right to free speech. Despite the constitutional barriers present, this Note analyzes different ways to protect election integrity without infringing on First Amendment rights.