Tiny Paper Battle Could Go to Supreme Court

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Julia Hanway is a small town business owner, works a full-time job, and runs the Wakulla Independent Reporter in her spare time. She says she's the last person who expected the firestorm her paper started two years ago.

All over town you'll see it, residents reading it from cover to cover. Some say it's not a newspaper at all; they call it a smearing campaign against certain politicians.

Steve Brown, a Wakulla Business owner, said, "It was nothing other than political publication. It set out to literally assassinate the character of two of our candidates for office, Mr. Mike Stewart and Mr. Maxie Lawhon."

Brown says years ago he and the paper's editor were close friends. Then came the election of 2004, a political controversy, and the first edition of her paper.

Julia Hanway, Editor of Wakulla Independent Reporter, said, "It was not a planned timing. It just happened that I started the newspaper at the same time that it was an election cycle. I had no idea that could be a problem for anyone."

Hanway says she shut down the paper out of fear. That's when the ACLE stepped in. They believe Hanway's rights to free speech, even further, her rights to freedom of the press, are being violated.

Attorneys have taken the tiny paper's battle to federal court asking a judge to rule in favor of free speech and force the FEC to back off. Attorneys say when it comes to a battle between constitutional rights and the FEC, there may be only one court in the land that can have the final say.

Meanwhile, Hanway has returned to publishing her paper. Brown says as long as the paper is publishing it's still pushing politics.