Counterfeit Campaign Speech

Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 70, No. 1145, 2019

William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-382

47 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2018 Last revised: 6 Nov 2021

Date Written: October 12, 2018


We are entering an era in which computers can produce highly-sophisticated fakes of people doing and saying things they have in fact not done or said. In the context of political campaigns, the danger of “counterfeit campaign speech” is existential. Do current laws prohibit faked candidate speech? Can counter speech effectively neutralize it? Because it takes place in the vaulted realm of core political speech, does the First Amendment stymie any attempt to outlaw it? Many smart people who have looked at the general problem of deceit in campaigns have concluded that the state has no business policing it. But most examinations of lies in campaigns involve “real” mistruths told by or about a candidate or issue. As identified here, counterfeit campaign speech is different than an ordinary lie; the perpetrator has maliciously put false words in candidates’ mouths or made them appear to take physical actions they have not. It is a form of fraud. Scholars and courts that have examined campaign deceit acknowledge that a narrow prohibition could survive constitutional scrutiny. A ban on counterfeit campaign speech fits that bill; this Article explains how it is possible and why it is necessary.

Keywords: Campaign Speech, Counterfeit, Fake Election, Vote Fraudulent, Deep Fake First Amendment Candidate, Cyberspace Law, Information Privacy Law & Politics Law, Politics & the Media

Suggested Citation

Green, Rebecca, Counterfeit Campaign Speech (October 12, 2018). Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 70, No. 1145, 2019, William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-382, Available at SSRN:

Rebecca Green (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
(757) 221-3851 (Phone)

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