Tags: 'Scarlet | Letter' | Law | Irks | Judges

'Scarlet Letter' Law Irks Judges

Tuesday, 07 November 2000 12:00 AM

According to the Washington Times:

Backers say the law is a way to provide more information for voters when they go to the polls. Opponents call it an unconstitutional limitation of free speech.

Justice David H. Souter suggested the statute, known in Missouri as the "Scarlet Letter" law, "puts the thumb on the scale" against a candidate.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, noting that electioneering at polling places in Missouri is legally prohibited, said that "yet, when the voters get inside [the polling booth], they are hit with this."

And Souter added: "It's doing more than informing, it's saying this person has violated a trust."

The high court was hearing arguments Monday in this legal dispute that is a postscript to the Supreme Court's 1995 decision striking down state laws that set congressional term limits.

Here's the background:

In 1996, Missouri voters amended their state constitution to require the state's congressional delegation to lobby for a national constitutional amendment that would set two six-year terms for members of the Senate and three two-year terms for members of the House of Representatives.

Those members of Congress seeking re-election who do not comply are, by state law, labeled on the next election ballot: "Disregarded Voters' Instruction on Term Limits."

Candidates who are not incumbents and do not pledge to support the movement are labeled: "Declined to Pledge to Support Term Limits."

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According to the Washington Times: Backers say the law is a way to provide more information for voters when they go to the polls. Opponents call it an unconstitutional limitation of free speech. Justice David H. Souter suggested the statute, known in Missouri as the ...
'Scarlet,Letter',Law,Irks,Judges
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2000-00-07
Tuesday, 07 November 2000 12:00 AM
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