Washington Post Challenge to Online Ad Law Set for Court Hearing
The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and a dozen other newspapers circulating in Maryland may soon find out if they’ll have to comply with a new state law regulating online political ads. Judge Paul Grimm of the U.S. District Court for Maryland agreed Monday to set a briefing schedule and hold an Oct. 10 hearing on the newspapers’ motion to block the state’s online ads law from being enforced during the fall election season, according to lawyers involved in the case.
The state law, which took effect in July, requires newspapers with websites, along with other large internet platforms selling ads, to gather and disclose information about who’s buying political ads and what they cost. Lawyers for the Post and others said the Maryland law violates the U.S. Constitution.
Adav Noti, a former FEC attorney, acknowledged the Maryland law could place an administrative burden on newspapers with websites and other internet platforms, but he said the goal of disclosure is important. Noti, now with the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, which supports strong campaign finance disclosure laws, said it was “disingenuous” for newspaper publishers to argue that the law’s disclosure burden rises to the level of the constitutional issues presented in the Post’s lawsuit.