State Governor Appears to Take Aim at First Amendment

( – Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said free speech is not free if it is “deceptive. In an interview with CNN, he said people have the right to speak but don’t have the right to lie. “You don’t have a right to use those lies to push people into situations in which they, frankly, are breaking the law,” he said. The governor claimed that free speech arguments cannot be used to deny people knowledge of their rights or to promote “misinformation.”

In April, Pritzker signed a law against “misinformation” in the form of State Senate Bill 1909, which critics say targets anti-abortion pregnancy centers. The law allows the state attorney general to crack down on centers that engage in “deceptive acts,” such as advising people not to have abortions.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supported the legislation, saying patients were “misled” into believing that the centers offered a full range of guidance and support when, in fact, they are anti-abortion activists.

Republican Senator Jil Tracy said the bill would prevent workers and volunteers at pregnancy centers from expressing their views on abortion and was, therefore, an infringement on their First Amendment rights.

Legal experts have already spoken out in opposition to Mr. Pritzker’s view that free speech rights do not cover “deception. Federal Judge Iain Johnston said the Illinois legislation was “both stupid and very likely unconstitutional” because it is an example of the “government taking the side of whose speech is sanctionable and whose speech is immunized.”

Furthermore, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the First Amendment does protect falsehoods, with limited protections in defamation and libel cases. In 2012, the Justices ruled that even “intentional falsehoods” are protected. This was tested in 2014, when Ohio tried to create a criminal offense of lying about a candidate during an election campaign. A federal court soon struck down Ohio’s plans, saying the cure was more dangerous than the disease.

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