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MD Online Political Advertising law ruled unconstitutional

December 8, 2019

The Fourth Circuit has struck down Maryland's controversial online political advertising law, affirming a lower court decision.  Read the decision here.  This litigation stemmed from Maryland's requirements, passed in 2018, that would force news organizations to publish certain information about online political advertisers on their websites and posed tremendous burdens to newspapers.  MDDC Press and its member publications, led in the effort by the Washington Post, were named plaintiffs in the case.  Ballard Spahr litigated the case.  Read the full analysis from Ballard Spahr.

For MDDC members, this ruling means that no changes need to be made to the process of online political advertising.  Most MDDC members vet the online advertising in the same way and standards as printed political advertising.  MDDC was united in opposition to the legislation and shifted the bill substantially from its original format.  Governor Hogan allowed the bill to become law without his signature and issued a statement citing the concerns of the Press Association as one of the reasons for not signing the bill. 

At this time, it is unclear whether the State Board of Elections will propose a revised bill to address their original concerns.  MDDC will continue to monitor this issue closely.

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