The Liberty Justice Center Asks SCOTUS to Hear First Amendment Challenge to Alaska’s Unprecedented Restrictions on Election Speech

June 13, 2024

On June 13, the Liberty Justice Center filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Smith v. Stillie, a case challenging Alaska’s intrusive election laws.

In November 2020, by a slim margin, Alaska voters approved Ballot Measure 2, which made sweeping changes to the state’s election laws. The changes, which took effect in 2022, revised how Alaskans vote for state offices and imposed some of the country’s most stringent reporting requirements on political donors.

Under Ballot Measure 2, any independent organization that wants to speak about elections must disclose its top donors by name in all broadcast and online communications. In addition, the law requires donors who give to these groups to report their own donations to the state themselves within 24 hours, or face thousands of dollars in fines—even though the groups themselves are already required to report the contributions. The new law also requires groups that receive most of their money from donors outside Alaska to include the message “A MAJORITY OF CONTRIBUTIONS TO [ENTITY’S NAME] CAME FROM OUTSIDE THE STATE OF ALASKA” on all televised ads—in all capital letters, for the ad’s entire duration.

The Liberty Justice Center filed a federal lawsuit challenging these reporting requirements in April 2022, arguing that the First Amendment protects the right to freely engage in core political speech—without being coerced into using their advertising time to deliver state-mandated messages or violating their donors’ privacy. The Liberty Justice Center is representing several Alaskan residents and citizen advocacy organizations in the suit. The Ninth Circuit Court dismissed the case in March 2024.

On June 13, the Liberty Justice Center announced that it had filed an appeal with the United States Supreme Court, urging the Court to grant certiorari and hear the case.

“People who want to speak out on political issues should be free to say what they want to say—not forced to say what the government wants them to say,” said Jacob Huebert, President of the Liberty Justice Center. “We urge the Supreme Court to hear this case and enforce the First Amendment’s protection against compelled speech.”

If the Supreme Court accepts the petition for certiorari, the case would go before the Court during the October 2024 Term.

The Liberty Justice Center’s legal filings in Smith v. Stillie are available here.

Smith v. Stillie was originally filed as Smith v. Helzer. The case name has changed because the previous Chair of the Alaska Public Offices Commission, Anne Helzer, has been succeeded by a new Chair, Richard Stillie, Jr.


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