Three Recent Cases: Alvarez, 281 CARE, and SBAL

  • Robert N. Spicer


This chapter focuses its attention on three important, recent cases dealing with deception and political speech. The chapter looks at three important arguments: (1) we should have some concern about how these decisions contribute to the caricature of free-speech absolutism, (2) we should think critically about the idea that a self-correcting marketplace of ideas will be able to effectively weed out misinformation, disinformation, and even purposeful and calculated lies, and (3) there is the idea that “everything worth saying shall be said” and the argument that acts of deception might not fall under that umbrella of protection. This chapter will discuss these arguments through an examination of three important, recent cases in political deception: U.S. v. Alvarez (2012), 281 CARE Committee v. Arneson (2013), and Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus (2016).


U.S. courts U.S. Supreme Court First Amendment jurisprudence Marketplace of ideas 281 CARE committee v. Arneson Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus Stolen valor U.S. v. Alvarez 


  1. 281 CARE Committee v. Arneson, 638 F.3d 621 (2011)Google Scholar
  2. 281 CARE Committee v. Arneson, Civil No. 08-5215 ADM/FLN (2013)Google Scholar
  3. Amar, V., & Brownstein, A. (2013). The voracious First Amendment: Alvarez and Knox in the context of 2012 and beyond. Loyola Law Review, 46(2), 491–540.Google Scholar
  4. Barnum, J. (2013). Encouraging Congress to encourage speech: Reflections on United States v. Alvarez. Albany Law Review, 76(1), 527–559.Google Scholar
  5. BE&K Construction Co. v. N.L.R.B. 536 U.S. 516 (2002)Google Scholar
  6. Bellandi, D. (2010, June 3). Kirk apologizes for misstating military record. NBC News. Retrieved from
  7. Bill Johnson’s Restaurants Inc. v. N.L.R.B. 461 U.S. 731 (1983)Google Scholar
  8. Cannon, L. (2000). President Reagan: The role of a lifetime. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  9. Cornell University Legal Information Institute. (n.d.-a). Intermediate scrutiny. Retrieved from
  10. Cornell University Legal Information Institute. (n.d.-b). Strict scrutiny. Retrieved from
  11. Entman, R., & Wildman, S. (1992). Reconciling economic and non-economic perspectives on media policy: Transcending the “marketplace of ideas”. Journal of Communication, 42(1), 5–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Erskine, T. (1880). Speeches of Thomas Lord Erskine. London: Reeves & Turner.Google Scholar
  13. False Political and Campaign Material, Minnesota § 211.B06 (1998)Google Scholar
  14. Garrison v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 64 (1964)Google Scholar
  15. Gertz v. Welch, 418 U.S. 323 (1974)Google Scholar
  16. Gollust, S., Baum, L., Niederdeppe, J., Barry, C., & Fowler, E. (2017). Local television news coverage of the Affordable Care Act: Emphasizing politics over consumer information. American Journal of Public Health, 107(5), 687–693.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hanrahan, M. (2012, June 29). Jean Schmidt reacts to incorrect report of health care ruling, screams ‘Yes! Yes!’ (VIDEO). The Huffington Post. Retrieved from
  18. Harvard Law Review. (2013). First Amendment – Deceptive expression – Fourth Circuit holds that statutes prohibiting the unauthorized wearing of a military uniform or military medals do not violate that First Amendment. Harvard Law Review, 126(7), 2113–2120.Google Scholar
  19. Hasen, R. (2013). A constitutional right to lie in campaigns and elections? Montana Law Review, 74(1), 53–77.Google Scholar
  20. Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153 (1979)Google Scholar
  21. Hernandez, R. (2010, May 17). Candidate’s words on Vietnam service differ from history. The New York Times. Retrieved from
  22. Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988)Google Scholar
  23. Jordan, B. (2013, June 3). Obama signs new Stolen Valor Act. Retrieved from
  24. Jurkowitz, M., Hitlin, P. Mitchell, A., Santhanam, L., Adams, S., Anderson, M., et al. (2013). The changing TV news landscape. The State of the News Media 2013. Retrieved from
  25. Kasparov, G. (2016). Winter is coming. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  26. Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, 465 U.S. 770 (1984)Google Scholar
  27. Krauss, M. (2012). A Marine’s honor: The Supreme Court from Snyder to Alvarez. George Mason Law Review, 20(1), 1–23.Google Scholar
  28. Lieffring, S. (2013). First Amendment and the right to lie: Regulating knowingly false campaign speech after United States v. Alvarez. Minnesota Law Review, 97(3), 1047–1078.Google Scholar
  29. Marks v. United States, 430 U.S. 188 (1977)Google Scholar
  30. Meiklejohn, A. (1948). Freedom of speech and its relation to self-government. New York: Harper & Brothers.Google Scholar
  31. Meiklejohn, A. (1961). The First Amendment is an absolute. Supreme Court Review, 1961, 245–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Memoirs v. Massachusetts, 383 U.S. 413 (1966)Google Scholar
  33. Messenger, A. (2012). The problem with New York Times v. Sullivan: An argument for moving from a “falsity model” of libel law to a “speech act model”. First Amendment Law Review, 11(fall), 172–234.Google Scholar
  34. Mill, J. S. (1961). The essential works of John Stuart Mill. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  35. Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973)Google Scholar
  36. Minnesota v. Thaddeus Victor Jude. 554 N.W.2d 750 (1996)Google Scholar
  37. New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964)Google Scholar
  38. Norton, H. (2013). Lies and the constitution. The Supreme Court Review, 2012(1), 161–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pestrak v. Ohio Elections Commission, 926 F. 2d 573 (1991)Google Scholar
  40. Priddy, V. (2013). War of the words: Why false statements should be guaranteed First Amendment protection. Georgia Law Review, 47(2), 623–656.Google Scholar
  41. Richey, S., & Greabe, J. (2012). Stolen valor & the First Amendment: Does trademark infringement law leave Congress an opening? New England Law Review, 47, 293–313.Google Scholar
  42. Schlect, B. (2011). Case note & comment: The New York Times solution to the Ninth Circuit ‘Stolen Valor’ problem. Idaho Law Review, 48(1), 175–212.Google Scholar
  43. Semuels, A. (2014, November 10). Is there hope for local news? The Atlantic. Retrieved from
  44. Snyder v. Phelps, 131 U.S. 1207 (2011)Google Scholar
  45. Stelter, B. (2012, June 28). CNN and Fox trip up in rush to get the news on the air. The New York Times. Retrieved from
  46. Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, Action No. 1:10cv720 (Doc. #18), U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Western Division (2010)Google Scholar
  47. Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 805 F.Supp.2d 412 (2011a)Google Scholar
  48. Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 805 F.Supp.2d 423 (2011b)Google Scholar
  49. Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Action No. 1:10cv720 (Doc. 89) (2013)Google Scholar
  50. Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 814 F.3d 466 (2016)Google Scholar
  51. Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, 134 S.Ct. 2334 (2014)Google Scholar
  52. Suter, W. (2012). Today’s Supreme Court. Montana Law Review, 73(1), 241–253.Google Scholar
  53. Tomei v. Finley, 512 F. Supp. 695 (1981)Google Scholar
  54. United States v. Alvarez, 132 U.S. 2537 (2012)Google Scholar
  55. Volokh, E. (2014, September 3). Ban on knowingly false statements in ballot measure campaigns is unconstitutional. The Washington Post. Retrieved from
  56. Wells, C. E. (2012). Lies, honor, and the government’s good name: Seditious libel and the Stolen Valor Act. UCLA Law Review Discourse, 59, 136–161.Google Scholar
  57. Williams, W. (2007). Necessary compromise: Protecting electoral integrity through the regulation of false campaign speech. South Dakota Law Review, 52(2), 321–354.Google Scholar
  58. Womack, A. (2013). “Stare what?” The Fourth Circuit’s questionable holding in U.S. v. Hamilton. North Carolina Central Law Review, 35(2), 293–306.Google Scholar
  59. Wood, J. (2011). Truth, lies, and stolen valor: A case for protecting false statements of fact under the First Amendment. Duke Law Journal, 61(2), 469–510.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert N. Spicer
    • 1
  1. 1.Millersville UniversityMillersvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations