United Seniors Association v. Social Security Administration Amicus Brief Filed to Attack Federal Statute Censoring 15 Political Words

Michael Harless Administrative Law, Postal Law, U. S. Supreme Court

We filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the Free Speech Defense and Education Fund, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund, Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, Citizens United Foundation, and Downsize DC Foundation in support of United Seniors Association’s (USA) petition for a writ of certiorari.

The amicus brief takes issue with the casual way that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit addressed the significant free speech claims of the United Seniors Association in a case seeking judicial review of a $545,000 “civil penalty” imposed by the SSA.

The Fourth Circuit failed to apply strict scrutiny to a law that prohibits the use of the words, “Social Security” that “might” create the “false impression” that the communication is an official SSA one – a test consistently required when the government regulates content-based, core political speech.

The Court of Appeals gave USA’s references to “Social Security” on its direct mail envelopes even less protection than afforded libel of a government official or even obscenity. This case is just another example of an increasing number of First Amendment cases in which the freedom of speech protection afforded the American people diminishes in direct proportion to the effectiveness, the more effective the communication, the less constitutional protection is given.

Link to brief