Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Green on Counterfeit Campaign Speech @WMLawSchool

Rebecca Green, William & Mary Law School, is publishing Counterfeit Campaign Speech at 70 Hastings L.J. 3 (2018). Here is the abstract.

We are entering an era in which computers can produce highly-sophisticated fakes of people doing and saying things they have in fact not done or said. In the context of political campaigns, the danger of “counterfeit campaign speech” is existential. Do current laws prohibit faked candidate speech? Can counter speech effectively neutralize it? Because it takes place in the vaulted realm of core political speech, does the First Amendment stymie any attempt to outlaw it? Many smart people who have looked at the general problem of deceit in campaigns have concluded that the state has no business policing it. But most examinations of lies in campaigns involve “real” mistruths told by or about a candidate or issue. As identified here, counterfeit campaign speech is different than an ordinary lie; the perpetrator has maliciously put false words in candidates’ mouths or made them appear to take physical actions they have not. It is a form of fraud. Scholars and courts that have examined campaign deceit acknowledge that a narrow prohibition could survive constitutional scrutiny. A ban on counterfeit campaign speech fits that bill; this Article explains how it is possible and why it is necessary.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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