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Recent Alumna Co-Authors Amicus Brief for Upcoming Supreme Court Case


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Not quite two years out of law school, Emily Newman, Class of 2012, is the co-author of an amicus brief in the case of Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, scheduled for oral argument before the United States Supreme Court on April 22, 2014. 

Newman (below) is a staff attorney with the Government Strategies Group in the Washington, D.C. office of Sidley Austin LLP.  Her participation in the case comes as Of Counsel for the First Amendment Lawyers Association, an Illinois-based, not-for-profit association of nearly 200 members. 
The brief urges reversal of a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that dismissed a First Amendment challenge to Ohio’s “false campaign statement” law.  The case arose during the 2010 Congressional election when the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, a national, pro-life advocacy group,sought to erect a large billboard in then-Ohio Rep. Steve Driehaus’ district with the message: “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion.” Driehaus, a first-term Democrat, filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) arguing that SBA List had misrepresented his voting record. He convinced the billboard company not to place the sign until the OEC proceeding was resolved.

SBA List sued the state elections commission and Rep. Driehaus, seeking a pre-enforcement injunction against the proceeding, but the District Court refused to intervene. After Driehaus lost the election, he dismissed the OEC action and counter-sued for libel, alleging that SBA’s “false statements” about his voting record cost him the election and damaged his reputation.

The District Court dismissed the First Amendment claim on ripeness grounds, and the Sixth Circuit affirmed. The libel case is now pending in the Sixth Circuit.
“The case presents a fascinating mix of First Amendment and ripeness issues,” said Professor Robert Destro, who serves as co-counsel for SBA List. “The Sixth Circuit’s holding that SBA List had no reasonable fear of prosecution in the future is inconsistent with the holdings of at least seven other circuits, and with the fact that SBA List had already been prosecuted for the content of its speech in the OEC.”

The brief Newman co-authored with Jennifer Kinsley, an assistant professor of law from Northern Kentucky University, argues that the Supreme Court “should maintain its traditional standing doctrine and permit speakers to raise facial challenges to laws restricting their expression, without regard to whether an actual prosecution is imminent.” Her brief is one of twenty-one amicus briefs urging reversal.

The brief filed on March 3rd is not Newman’s first experience in the Supreme Court. While still a student, she worked closely with Professor Robert Destro and his clients on an amicus brief he filed on behalf of the Catholic Conferences of the Dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn.

Impressed with her work and eager to showcase the talents of CUA Law grads, Destro recommended Newman to counsel for the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association. Newman calls the chain of events a useful example of the value of experiential learning and mentorship unique to CUA Law.