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Monday, June 27, 2022

Cert dened in Coral Ridge Ministries

Beginning on p.11, with dissent from Thomas but not Gorsuch (who has called for reconsidering NYT v. Sullivan) or anyone else. I guess the Court is not ready to undo the foundation of modern free speech.

This case was never a good vehicle for overruling NYT because the statements at issue (labeling a ministry a "hate group") are clear protected opinion; the district court dismissed the claim on opinion and actual-malice grounds, while the court of appeals addressed the latter. Unless the Court wanted to undo the entire defamation edifice (at this point, who knows?), this was not the right case. My guess is that explains why Gorsuch did not join Thomas, as opposed to him changing his mind about undoing the First Amendment.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on June 27, 2022 at 09:45 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Judicial Process | Permalink


The new book "Seek and Hide: The Tangled History of the Right to Privacy" is an interesting historical laden account.

The issue of "malice" factors into this story. One major free press precedent, Near v. Minnesota, has multiple references to it.

Anyway, even if one was on board with Thomas, this is a dubious platform to use. Even if there were some interest in a "undo the entire defamation edifice" type project, this case surely looks like it turns on clear opinion.

Some aspects of the case (religious belief, Amazon, etc.) might be some sort of draw from an ideological standpoint, but on the merits, no.

Posted by: Joe | Jun 27, 2022 2:42:59 PM

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