The Bulldozer and the Bully
Over at Real Clear Politics, journalist Carla Main and her publisher at Encounter Books, Roger Kimball, discuss the libel suit they face as a result of her 2007 book, Bulldozed: "Kelo," Eminent Domain, and the American Lust for Land. Dallas developer H. Walker Royall is suing them, along with a writer who favorably reviewed the book, the newspaper that published the review, and University of Chicago legal scholar Richard Epstein, who wrote a blurb for the book, because he did not like the way he came across in it:
As we see it, Royall's case against us is not an ordinary libel suit. It is a suit aimed at suppressing the process of investigative journalism and the free circulation of ideas. In his complaint, Royall does not identify a single word of Bulldozed that libels him. He says only that "the gist" of the book defames him….
Royall has picked on the most vulnerable people he could find—writers, a scholar, a nonprofit publisher and a community newspaper. He didn't sue more powerful venues, such as The Wall Street Journal, which favorably reviewed "Bulldozed," or the Cato Institute's Regulation magazine, which have the resources and the lawyers to defend themselves.
Main and Kimball, who are represented by the Institute for Justice, also summarize the Freeport, Texas, eminent domain case at the center of Bulldozed, in which Royall figures prominently. I noted Royall's habit of suing his critics last month.