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Ohio agency the focus of Supreme Court case

Tom Jackson • May 5, 2014 at 8:30 PM

Philip Richter used to run an obscure state agency. Richter is the executive director and staff attorney of the Ohio Elections Commission, which mostly fields complaints and makes rulings when a political candidate wants to complain that an opponent lied about him (or her).

He’s not famous. But his agency gained national publicity April 22 when a case, Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus, was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. The underlying issue is whether Ohio law can prohibit false political speech. Readers who want to dig deep into the case should consult scotusblog.com .

Pundits have weighed in on the case, including well-known columnist George Will, who criticized Ohio’s “truth arbiter and speech regulator,” Richter’s agency, in a piece printed on the Register’s April 22 editorial page.

Richter said the controversy hasn’t affected his work. “We’re here. I’ve got a job to do. I honestly don’t think about a lot.” Richter said he traveled to Washington and watched the arguments before the High Court, although he didn’t get to weigh in. “Nobody was that interested in hearing from me,” he said.

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