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Comcast dropping appeal over blocked political ad

August 2, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A cable provider in Arkansas said Thursday it will no longer appeal a ruling that prevented it from airing a conservative group’s attack ad against a state Supreme Court justice seeking re-election.

Comcast of Arkansas asked the state Court of Appeals to dismiss its appeal of the May preliminary injunction blocking the Judicial Crisis Network ads targeting Justice Courtney Goodson. A Pulaski County judge ordered several Little Rock area stations to stop airing the group’s ad through the May 22 judicial election.

The ad that was halted criticized Goodson over gifts from donors and a pay raise the court requested last year. Goodson is being challenged in the November election by David Sterling, the Department of Human Services chief counsel.

Comcast said in a court filing it had reached a resolution with Goodson and her campaign. An attorney for Comcast did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Lauren Hoover, an attorney for Goodson and her campaign, said the provider agreed to not air the JCN ad or any spot from the group making the same allegations. Goodson’s campaign also agreed to a motion for the injunction to be vacated, according to court documents. Judge Chris Piazza granted that motion on Tuesday.

The agreement would not prevent JCN from running ads that raise other allegations or criticism, Hoover said. Officials from JCN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Bottom line is, I think everyone knows we’re serious about fighting back against this stuff,” Hoover said.

Tegna, the parent company of Little Rock television station KTHV, is also appealing the injunction. Tegna’s attorneys said in a filing with the appeals court his week that the injunction was an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech.

The anti-Goodson ad was among a flood of TV spots and mailers focusing on the Supreme Court race that had hit Arkansas in the weeks leading up to the May election. The Washington-based Judicial Crisis Network spent more than $931,000 on television ads targeting Goodson and Appeals Court Judge Kenneth Hixson, who also ran for the high court seat in the May election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.


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