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Ex-Mayor Loses Challenge to Anti-Lying Ordinance

(CN) - Former Miami Beach Mayor David Dermer lacks standing to challenge a county ordinance making it illegal to lie during petition drives, the 11th Circuit ruled. Dermer said the ordinance had a "chilling effect" on his willingness to participate in local politics.

The Miami-Dade County ordinance makes it a crime punishable by fines and jail to lie "concerning the contents or effect of any petition for initiative, referendum or recall."

Dermer said the ordinance infringed on his free-speech rights, as it made him reluctant to engage in local politics. Violators face a maximum fine of $500 and up to two months in jail.

U.S. District Judge Alan Gold sided with Dermer and struck down the ordinance as unconstitutionally overbroad. But on appeal, the Atlanta-based circuit reversed, saying Dermer lacks standing and his claims are not ripe.

"Dermer ... failed to provide the court with anything more than generalizations," wrote Jane Restani, chief judge of the U.S. Court of International Trade and designated panel judge. She said Dermer failed to offer any details of his alleged injury.

"Without such elaboration, his mere assertion of a chill is insufficient to demonstrate an injury in fact," she wrote.

The court added that Dermer's claims aren't ripe, because he failed to prove a credible threat of prosecution.

The 11th Circuit reversed and remanded, instructing the lower court to dismiss Dermer's complaint.

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