Federal Courts Reject MD Political Advertising Rules

A Federal appeals court has upheld a lower court decision that a 2018 Maryland law governing online political advertising is an unconstitutional limit on free speech.

Free-Speech-768x512Maryland legislation governing online political advertising, passed in 2018 and enacted without the Governor’s signature, has hit a major roadblock in federal court. The bill has not taken effect while online media companies challenge its legality, and the latest ruling upholds their view.

The bill – SB 875 and HB 981 of 2018 – would have required that political advertising be accompanied by notice of the source and funding behind the ad, and that information be retained for later inspection.

From coverage in the Baltimore Sun:

The appeals court said it understood what Maryland’s General Assembly was trying to do.

“The changing nature of elections and the novel technological challenges accompanying them have made the states’ managerial tasks more difficult,” Wilkinson wrote. “How states choose to carry out their responsibilities has long merited our respect. But that respect has bounds — and here, Maryland has crossed them.”


Read the full Sun story online, including a link to the full court decision.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties