Prior restraint: Judge orders candidate to stop running TV ad linking opponent to Reid

It is called prior restraint.

But that doesn’t seem to stop Nevada judges from doing it, as I’ve noted before.

On Friday a Reno judge ordered state Senate candidate Gary Schmidt to stop running a television ad that accused his Republican primary opponent, incumbent Ben Kieckhefer, of being a supporter of Harry Reid in the 2010 election, according to a Reno newspaper account.

Now, that is probably libel per se, if anyone could “prove” it is not true. Kieckhefer does have close ties to a number of those infamous Republicans for Reid. Early voting ended Friday and the primary is Tuesday.

Gary Schmidt (RG-J file photo)

In granting Kieckhefer a preliminary injunction, Judge Patrick Flanagan, wrote, “Ben Kieckhefer is likely to suffer irreparable injury to his career and reputation from defendant’s television advertisements.”

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the political kitchen.

“It is important that at some point, when something is blatantly false, that it should not be tolerated,” the newspaper quoted Kieckhefer, a former Reno Gazette-Journal reporter, as saying. “I am a staunch defender of the first amendment (Yes, the paper ran it lower case). I am a former journalist and I believe in it. But it is not universal and it should not protect people’s ability to just make something up.”

Kieckhefer and the judge are both wrong. Prior restraint is the essence of censorship, which is anathema to the First Amendment right to free speech and press. Yes, even if it is later proven to be false.

Kieckhefer is free to stand up in public and call Schmidt a liar. He can also sue Schmidt for libel. But stopping him from saying whatever he wishes in the middle of campaign is unjustifiable. Politicians should be free to lie about their opponents and get caught lying.

Of course, in this case, it will be interesting to hear the proof of the lie.

This is how the Reno newspaper account concludes:

“Before the ad was broadcast for the first time Wednesday, Schmidt said part of his proof of Kieckhefer’s support for Reid was an article from the Las Vegas Sun.

“‘What I have is an article and other testimony and then guilt by association,’ Schmidt said then, noting Kieckhefer’s Republican friends include former state Sen. Bill Raggio and Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, who both supported Reid against Angle.

“‘And the biggest secondary evidence I have — because we re-researched this again — is this: There is nothing on the record anywhere where he (Kieckhefer) gave any ounce of support or endorsement to Sharron Angle. So what did he do, vote for the Green Party candidate?’ Schmidt said.”

That is why there is a First Amendment — to let the truth arise from the exchange of allegations and not have some judge weigh in and deny the voters to right to hear what the candidates have to say, showing their character and probity.

The judge is stealing information from the voters and usurping their right to determine the outcome of the election.

What one candidate says about another says more about that person than it says about his opponent. If we assume voters are too stupid to figure it out, eventually, democracy is a failed experiment.



20 comments on “Prior restraint: Judge orders candidate to stop running TV ad linking opponent to Reid

  1. Steve says:

    Mud is best part of politics. It makes for the most entertaining of races. AND it shows what kind of people are actually running.

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    Or is it an act of kindness and mercy to disassociate a candidate from Harry Reid? Who wants Harry Reid mentioned in any comment or sentence with them, who wants his endorsement in the current political climate?

  3. Rincon says:

    In theory, our libel laws would motivate political candidates to stick to the truth. Unfortunately, the judiciary in this country refuses to enforce them. Same with frivolous lawsuits.

  4. Rincon says:

    Nice to see that the law hasn’t atrophied completely. From what I understand, common law recognizes that politics is a contact sport and the standards for a libel suit are supposed to be more demanding than those for an ordinary citizen. In contrast, making it open season when someone declares their candidacy would keep the best candidates away, just as a lack of rules would keep the best athletes out of any sport.

  5. Vernon Clayson says:

    Rules, politicians don’t need no stinking rules. It’s almost ironic that the practically lawless Congress have been taught a lesson by a lawless chief executive. Wouldn’t it be great to know how Obama arranged the exchange of prisoners without one member of the Congress getting wind of it? Maybe he used the same methods and people that placed American citizens and executives in Benghazi, or the same people that let IRS employees run amuck.

  6. Rincon says:

    According to my interpretation of the Constitution, Congress has no authority over the way the Commander in Chief performs his duties. With partisan politics at an extreme, there is no point in politely informing Congress before the fact.

  7. ronknecht says:

    Thx, Mitch.


  8. Bill says:

    The problem with a “libel” suit is that it occurs after the election and even then, under the holding in Time Inc. vs. Hill, et. seq. there is virtually no redress for a public figure.

  9. Juanita Cox says:

    I read the original article and came to the same conclusion as did Schmidt. Also, lets face it Ben and the good ol’ boys have been holding Nevada hostage for too long. When they break their promises to the public, nothing seems to happen….we don’t sue (but should) and the only way we get redress is having a wonderful challenger in the Primary, like Schmidt. Many of the current incumbents are very nervous with more wonderful challengers like the Bunce brothers (Clark), Archie, Fineberg, Dickman, Khan and so many others! Thank God there are Primaries to get some of those “crooked incumbents” out.

  10. A public figure is fair game.

  11. ausscyn says:

    I live in Nevada. I’m a member of the GOPState Central Committee & was on the committee that interviewed the candidates for endorsement by the Nevada Republican Party. Schmidt received our endorsement. SCHMIDT IS BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!! The sooner we get rid of legislators like Schmidt’s opponent, the better our fine state will be. Schmidt is not a liar or a mudslinger. He is a Constitutionalist and a Statesman. The knives are out for candidates like Schmidt & it’s our duty to know the facts and put people in office who serve We The People, not special interests, like the puppet Keekheifer.

  12. GARY SCHMIDT says:

    See the Las Vegas Sun October 31, 2010 which was also submitted to the Court in evidence of Kieckhefer’s support of Harry Reid. A Counter Claim was filed by Schmidt against Kieckhefer on June 9th claiming false statements were made by Kieckhefer against Schmidt in Kieckhefer’s ads. Both matters will be heard in District Court in approximately 40 days. There has been no validity asserted by the Court yet in either allegation. See Second District Nevada State Court CV 14 01227

  13. Can you provide a headline for the sun story and/or some key words so I can find it?

  14. Also, give me heads up prior to court hearing, please.

  15. GARY SCHMIDT says:

    Thomas, Las Vegas Sun article October 31, 2010 by David McGrath Schwartz entitled “Reid endorsement may put Raggio on the outs in GOP”. Also the transcripts from the hearing on Friday June 6th show that the Judge initially interpreted the article the same way I and my staff did. Also Kieckhefer merry band of lobbyist lawyers first went ti Cannel 4 and Channel 8 and they contacted my media company (Emedia) who provided the a copy of the Sun article which they ran by their respective legal staff who both reported back that they saw no problem and the ad stays. The potion of the ad in question was 4 seconds. Kieckhefer has offered a mutual dismissal but that a’int happening. We are headed to the State Supreme Court and maybe beyond. Senate District 16 now has the best politician Money Can Buy. This has got to stop sometime or we will continue the greased slide to a third world nation. (Nevada 9th Most corrupt State in the Nation -Kieckhefer works for the Lobbyist Law Firm that represents him while he serves in the Legislature – illegal in other States), Gary Schmidt

    PS hearing on the TRO in Flanigan’s Court Thursday 9 AM

  16. Let us know what happens.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Kieckhefer vacated/dismissed his request for a permanent injunction with no conditions after trying to get us to dismiss our counter claims which a’int happening. We were ready to go to hearing but he backed out and vacated at the last minute. I (Schmidt or others) am now free to continue to run the ads. This vacating/dismissal of the request for permanent injunction is a form of adverse admission by Kieckhefer that he had no real cause of action against a real Judge (Palaha). The Campaign continues I am just no longer a candidate. There is an IAP and a Democrat in the General both of whom are much more Conservative than Kieckhefer. The real LIE so far in the race is Kieckhefer calling himself a Conservative. We are proceeding with multiple counter claims and actions against Kieckhefer all the way to the US Supreme Court if necessary. Political Opportunists like Kieckhefer must be held responsible for their acts and actions.
    Gary Schmidt

  18. […] weeks earlier a Nevada judge forced a state Senate candidate in the Republican primary to stop running a television commercial saying […]

  19. […] called this guilt by association and he was quoted at the time as saying, “And the biggest secondary evidence I have — because we re-researched this again — […]

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