The National Law Journal: Appeals Court Revives Fight Over North Carolina Law Limiting Candidate Speech
February 8, 2023
A Fourth Circuit panel blocked a grand jury investigation into North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein regarding allegations that he violated a state law that criminalizes certain political speech during campaigns. “Taken literally, this language means spreading a viral falsehood hoping to end a candidate’s marriage is fine but doing the same thing becomes a crime if it is intended (in whole or in part) to doom the person’s political campaign,” Judge Toby Heytens wrote. O’Melveny partner Michael Dreeben, who represents Stein, argued before the panel that a criminal defamation statute does not pass the standard set forth by the First Amendment. “We are gratified that the Fourth Circuit concluded, as we had argued, that North Carolina’s political libel statute violates core First Amendment principles,” Dreeben said.
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