Property Rights

Swift SLAPP

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Last May property rights activists in Clarksville, Tennessee, ran an ad in a local paper urging their neighbors to oppose a redevelopment project that involves the use of eminent domain. The ad, sponsored by the Clarksville Property Rights Coalition, noted that Mayor Johnny Piper, City Councilman Richard Swift, and Downtown District Partnership member Wayne Wilkinson "are all developers" and declared:

This redevelopment plan is about private development. Our city government is controlled by developers….This redevelopment plan is of the developers, by the developers, and for the developers.

Not only did the plan win the city council's approval, but now Swift and Wilkinson are suing the coalition for defamation, seeking $500,000 in damages. Bert Gall, the Institute for Justice attorney who is defending the activists, says:

Swift and Wilkinson are thin-skinned bullies trying to silence and intimidate their critics with frivolous litigation. All citizens have a First Amendment right to speak out against government abuse-without getting sued for their speech by the very people whose actions they are protesting.

Careful there, Bert. Swift and Wilkinson might sue you too.

NEXT: Banned

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  1. When will the little people understand that they don’t own any land. They just keep it in trust for when government wants to use it.

  2. If Fascists can now call them progressives can I as a developer now be called a land democratizer?

    Developer has turned into a pejorative.

  3. Developer has turned into a pejorative.

    Not without reason.

  4. Not only did the plan win the city council’s approval, but now Swift and Wilkinson are suing the coalition for defamation, seeking $500,000 in damages.

    Ah yes. The Scientology gambit.
    Hey Smith and Wilkenson, you’re not even up to the level of assholes as they have a useful purpose. See my attorney.

  5. Between this and the flag post, I have a line from Rage Against the Machine (I’m no fan of Zach’s politics) stuck in my head:

    FUCK YOU! I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!

  6. Any link to the actual proposal to see if there are indeed eminent domain abuses? I would probably need info like that prior to forming an opinion.

    Seems others don’t.

  7. Honestly, do you have an opinion on the lawsuit by the assholes against the Clarksville Property Rights Coalition?

  8. No, because as of right now, I don’t have proof they are assholes.

  9. Any link to the actual proposal to see if there are indeed eminent domain abuses? I would probably need info like that prior to forming an opinion.

    Seems others don’t.

    It’s irrelevant to the case at hand. The defamation laws against public figures are very narrow (you need to show not only were the statements not true, but that the statements are not true and that the people making them (a) knew they weren’t true or (b) acted with reckless disregard towards the truth) for a reason.

  10. Some people don’t like development – no matter what.

    If I were on Council, and it were a straight up deal, and some group lied to imply my vote was to line my own pockets (in a full page ad, no less), I’d sue the bastards too.

  11. If I were on Council, and it were a straight up deal, and some group lied to imply my vote was to line my own pockets (in a full page ad, no less), I’d sue the bastards too.

    Stay out of politics. You lack the dermal qualities necessary.

  12. Honestly,

    It’s nice to know there are still folks who would like to punish people for expressing a negative opinion about the motivations of their representatives.

    Ass.

  13. Andrew, perhaps the use of the term “eminent domain” in the first sentence of the post made me offer it more relevance than necessary. I’ll read posts here more carefully in the future.

  14. Penelope, call me what you will. I’m just saying that if you are going to take out a full page ad and call me a thief, you’d better be able to prove it.

  15. And “Honestly” joins a very long line of people who can’t tell the difference between P-E-N-E-L-O-P-E and E-L-E-M-E-N-O-P-E.

    I’m just saying that if you are going to take out a full page ad and call me a thief, you’d better be able to prove it.

    If it’s a factual assertion and you are a private citizen, fine. But if not, and is rather an unflattering opinion of a public official, read Sullivan and weep. I understand that the 1st Amendment is very inconvenient and agonizingly annoying to those who would wish their subject would just shut-up, but those are the breaks livin’ in a nominally free state.

  16. Sorry about messing up your name, Ms. Elemenope.

  17. Ms. Elemenope

    [Sigh.]

    No problem.

  18. Just fuckin’ with ya. 🙂

  19. Just fuckin’ with ya. 🙂

    LOL.

    Now imagine that I’m a private citizen who has just been defamed by the implication that he is actually a she… 😉

  20. Honestly | July 9, 2008, 6:10pm | #
    Any link to the actual proposal to see if there are indeed eminent domain abuses? I would probably need info like that prior to forming an opinion.

    Official Ordinances Declaring stretches of downtown as “blighted”
    Further Details

  21. From my studying for the bar exam, I seem to remember something about truth being an absolute defense to defamation. If the people who came up with the plan are developers, this suit goes nowhere except to paying attorney’s fees to Mr. Gall and IJ.

  22. “Penelope, call me what you will. I’m just saying that if you are going to take out a full page ad and call me a thief, you’d better be able to prove it.”

    Whoa, no one called anyone a “thief”. All the add implied was that the people involved in the deal were developers. And as developers, maybe they were naturally inclined to favor developers and their narrow interests – and not the public at large. It’s no diff’t when Republicans accuse democrats of being the “party of trial lawyers/unions, etc.” or when dems accuse Republicans of being “the party of big business/big oil, etc”.
    But lawsuits because someone merely points out the occupation of a number of politicans? Thats a bit of a stretch. Maybe save money on lawyers fees and just run a counter-ad.

  23. No, because as of right now, I don’t have proof they are assholes.

    Filing the lawsuit strikes me as res ipsa loquitur on that question.

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