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ACLU Files Court Brief in Support of Mayor Laffey’s Radio Show Lawsuit

Posted: June 06, 2005|Category: Free Speech

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The ACLU today filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey’s lawsuit seeking an order allowing him to continue to host a radio talk show on WPRO. The brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston, precedes oral argument in the case scheduled on Thursday. Last month, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi rejected Laffey’s request for a temporary restraining order against the Board of Elections’ ruling that the radio show constituted an illegal campaign contribution under state election law.

The ACLU brief, filed by volunteer attorney Carolyn A. Mannis, argues that “the order issued by the Board in this case is both overbroad and vague in contravention of the First Amendment.”

The brief called the Board’s broad interpretation of the campaign finance laws “an overbroad and unauthorized prior restraint on freedom of speech.” The brief also argued that the Board’s attempts to distinguish Mayor Laffey’s situation from other on-going scenarios – including that of a Jamestown resident running for town council who writes a free pet column for a local weekly – could not withstand scrutiny “without having significant and untoward consequences for the exercise of free speech by public officials and candidates for public office.”

The brief concludes by urging the First Circuit to reverse the district court’s ruling.

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