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Supreme Court says it won't consider rewriting defamation law

Supreme Court says it won't consider rewriting defamation law




The Supreme Court has turned down a request to reconsider the decades-old defamation judgment, despite dissenting Justice Clarence Thomas. This morning, the court dismissed a petition for hearing in Coral Ridge Ministries Media v. Southern Poverty Law Center, in which an evangelical Christian ministry accused the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of misrepresentation as an anti-LGBTQ hate group. accused of. accused of being nominated.

Had it reversed this decision, the Supreme Court would have greatly increased the chances of public figures winning in future defamation cases. Instead, the decision delayed (but likely won't end) a long-running push to expand the scope of defamation law.

Coral Ridge Ministries Media v. SPLC rests on the "actual malice" standard—a protection that means public figures must show a false statement that was made intentionally or with reckless disregard for its truth in order to win a defamation case. . In 2021, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals determined that the SPLC had not acted with genuine malice when it denounced Coral Ridge Ministries (also known as Truth in Action and D. James Kennedy Ministries) for its "hate". " was rejected for. map" added. Coral Ridge Ministries asked the Supreme Court to re-examine its decision in The New York Times Company v. Sullivan, the case that sets the "genuine malice" standard in the first place.

The court's long-awaited decision, which saw several delays, sets a basic precedent. But Thomas indicated that he would like to take up the matter. In his dissenting opinion, he called the case "one of many", indicating that NYT v. Sullivan had allowed the media to "make false allegations against public figures with almost impunity", complaining That "nearly impossible" standard meant "coral could not ridge." To hold the SPLC responsible for its maintenance is an open lie."

Thomas has repeatedly called for a re-evaluation of the actual malice standard, and he has also urged the court to narrow speech protections beyond libel. In an opinion piece last year, he cited a way for the government to regulate restraints on sites like Twitter. He has also displayed an appetite to revisit earlier cases. Last week, Roe v. Wade, urged the court to reconsider rulings that protected contraceptive access and same-sex marriage. But he is not the only justice who has doubted the standard. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined Thomas in a 2021 libel case of disagreement concerning the son of the former prime minister of Albania, and Justice Elena Kagan wrote a book review in 1993 criticizing NYT v. Sullivan, however, Kagan None of Thomas's is signed or filed. Opinion. Same ones.

Coral Ridge Ministries Media vs. SPLC could not end with a Coral Ridge Ministries victory, even with the standard overturned because even a lower court wasn't sure where to put it on the "hate map" Go. The inclusion was a false factual statement rather than an opinion. But it could dramatically change the balance of power in US defamation cases, making it much easier for powerful figures – such as former President Donald Trump, who expressed a desire to “open up crime laws” – and news outlets against. Many lawsuits filed - win the case for. Now, that's off the table - but it's almost certainly not the final case that will reach the Supreme Court.

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