WCBE

Bipartisan Coalition Challenging State Internet Harassment Law

May 18, 2017

A coalition of progressive and conservative online political commentators in Ohio has filed a constitutional challenge to the state's recently enacted law against internet harassment.

The coalition alleges a prohibition against knowingly posting text or audio statements or images for the purpose of abusing or harassing someone violates their rights to free speech and expression. The plaintiffs include the progressive blog Plunderbund, the Portage County Tea Party and freelance political reporter John Spinelli. They say they "routinely engage" in protected speech that "may be considered provocative," which now subjects them to "a credible risk of prosecution." A First Amendment legal scholar at UCLA initiated the action.