ABA Rejects Report on Trump's Frivolous Lawsuits, Fearing a Frivolous Lawsuit

The episode underscores the author's point about the speech-chilling impact of SLAPPs by thin-skinned rich people.



Troubled by Donald Trump's use of litigation to suppress criticism, the American Bar Association's Forum on Communications Law commissioned a report on the Republican presidential nominee's speech-related lawsuits. The author of the article, First Amendment lawyer Susan Seager, concluded that Trump's abuse of the legal system "provides a powerful illustration of why more states need to enact anti-SLAPP laws to discourage libel bullies like Trump from filing frivolous lawsuits to chill speech about matters of public concern and run up legal tabs for journalists and critics." Underlining Seager's point, the ABA declined to publish her report because officials there worried that Trump might respond with a frivolous lawsuit.

In a story published yesterday, New York Times legal reporter Adam Liptak quotes an October 19 email message in which James Dimos, the ABA's deputy executive director, worried about "the risk of the ABA being sued by Mr. Trump" if the organization published Seager's report as written. Dimos made it clear that his fear was not based on anything Seager had written that was actually defamatory or otherwise actionable. "While we do not believe that such a lawsuit has merit," he said, "it is certainly reasonable to attempt to reduce such a likelihood by removing inflammatory language that is unnecessary to further the article's thesis." This perceived need to pull punches shows how the possibility of a SLAPP ("strategic lawsuit against public participation") chills constitutionally protected speech, even when no suit is filed or even threatened.

The language that Dimos deemed "inflammatory" was critical of Trump but appropriately so. The ABA did not like Seager's title: "Donald J. Trump Is a Libel Bully but Also a Libel Loser." The alternative it proposed was less specific, less topical, and less interesting: "Presidential Election Demonstrates Need for Anti-SLAPP Laws." The bar association also objected to Seager's lead: "Donald J. Trump is a libel bully. Like most bullies, he's also a loser, to borrow from Trump's vocabulary." It seems the ABA likewise was not keen on Seager's other references to Trump's bullying, her description of the First Amendment as "his old foe," or her suggestion that "frivolous, speech-targeting lawsuits" should be called "Trump Suits" instead of SLAPPs. "The ABA took out every word that was slightly critical of Donald Trump," she told Liptak. "It proved my point."

Seager's "inflammatory language," although apt to get under Trump's skin, was not only clearly protected opinion but well-grounded in the evidence she collected. Highlights of her report, which the Media Law Resource Center posted on Friday, include the lawsuit that Trump filed against comedian Bill Maher over a joke mocking the billionaire real estate developer's promotion of anti-Obama birtherism. In 2012 Trump made a video in which he promised to pay $5 million to the charity of Obama's choice if the president agreed to release his "college and passport records." In response, Maher said during an appearance on The Tonight Show in early 2013 that he would pay $5 million to the charity of Trump's choice if the orange-hued reality TV star provided proof that he was not "the spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan." Trump thereupon sent Maher a copy of his birth certificate and demanded that he pay up. Receiving no response, Trump filed a $5 million breach-of-contract suit, which he withdrew (Seager notes) after it was "roundly ridiculed by the Hollywood Reporter."

Trump's very first defamation suit, against Chicago Tribune architecture critic Paul Gapp, was equally frivolous. In 1984 Gapp wrote a column that slammed Trump's plans to build the world's tallest building at the southeastern tip of Manhattan, calling it "one of the silliest things anyone could inflict on New York or any other city" and an example of "Guinness Book of World Records architecture." Gapp also described Trump Tower as a "skyscraper offering condos, office space and a kitschy shopping atrium of blinding flamboyance." In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Gapp called Trump's plan "aesthetically lousy." Trump sued Gapp for $500 million, claiming the critic's criticism had doomed the project. A federal judge had no trouble concluding that Gapp's opinions were constitutionally protected, noting that "expressions of one's opinion of another, however unreasonable, or vituperative, since they cannot be subjected to the test of truth or falsity, cannot be held libelous and are entitled to absolute immunity from liability under the First Amendment."

Seager identified seven speech-related lawsuits filed by Trump or his businesses, including "four dismissals on the merits, two voluntary withdrawals, and one lone victory in an arbitration won by default." Trump seems to have prevailed in that last case, which involved allegations by former Miss Pennsylvania Sheena Monnin about the Miss USA competition's fairness, mainly because Monnin received what a federal judge later described as "unconsionably" bad legal advice. Her father claims she never paid "a penny" of the $5 million in damages that Trump won after she failed to show up for a hearing, allowing his lawyers to present their case without rebuttal.

Seager notes that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen nevertheless used the Monnin case to threaten a Daily Beast reporter who last year inquired about Ivana Trump's 1993 claim that Donald had "raped" her when they were married. "Do you want to destroy your life?" Cohen asked. "It's going to be my privilege to serve it to you on a silver platter like I did that idiot from Pennsylvania in Miss USA, because I think you are dumber than she is….I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?"

As that episode suggests, the actual lawsuits are just the tip of this speech-chilling iceberg. Over the years, Seager notes, Trump's minions have "sent countless threatening cease-and-desist letters to journalists and critics." A well-heeled news organization such as The New York Times, which Trump recently threatened to sue because it reported the allegations of women who say he kissed or groped them without their consent, is not likely to fold in response to such threats. But they send an intimidating message to journalists and outlets with fewer resources.

Those threats are intimidating because even a defendant who prevails suffers the anxiety, inconvenience, and expense of being sued. The process is the punishment, as advocates of SLAPP protections, which include expedited dismissal of frivolous suits and compensation for legal costs, like to point out. After financial journalist Timothy O'Brien argued in a 2005 book that Trump was worth less than he claimed, Trump filed a $5 billion defamation lawsuit against O'Brien and his publisher that dragged on for five years. Trump lost in court, but that is not the way he saw it. "I spent a couple of bucks on legal fees, but they spent a whole lot more," Trump told The Washington Post this year. "I did it to make [O'Brien's] life miserable, which I'm happy about."

Because thin-skinned rich people like Trump will happily pay to inflict such punishment, the risk of being sued by them, no matter how groundless the claim, can deter valuable speech, as illustrated once again by the ABA's skittishness about Seager's report. Charles Tobin, a former chairman of the ABA's Forum on Communications Law, told the Times "everyone who looked at it on the forum side felt her conclusions were well founded, were backed up by her scholarship, and that the ABA should not be censoring a First Amendment lawyer's point of view about a current presidential candidate's litigation tactics." George Freeman, another former chairman of the forum, argued that the ABA's rejection of the article betrayed its mission. "As the guardian of the values of our legal system," he said, "the ABA should not stop the publication of an article that criticizes people for bringing lawsuits not to win them but to economically squeeze their opponents."

[The date of Gapp's column has been corrected.]

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  1. Anti-SLAPP statutes, themselves, chill free speech.

    1. Explain.

      1. I do below. The media having license to slander and destroy the reputations of anyone they don’t like chills free speech. Who in their right mind would want to stand up to the government and establishment when doing so meant being slandered and having your reputation destroyed with no recourse?

        1. Trump doesn’t have a reputation to destroy.

          1. Trump doesn’t have a reputation to destroy.

            Really? Trump buildings and hotels and resorts were always perceived as high-end, luxury accommodations and made more desireable by the Trump’s endorsement, so much so that developers paid Trump for use of his name on their buildings. Now people in some of these Trump buildings are actually petitioning to have his name removed, and some have actually removed it. The mud-slinging and slander by the MSM and the DNC has seriously damaged his reputation and his brand.

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          2. Yes Hazel, you think if they do it to Trump it is okay. You are too fucking stupid to understand that this might involve bigger issues. God you are fucking stupid.

            1. Yes, “bigger issues” like the fact that the media is biased and against the Republicans. Because filing a bunch of slander lawsuits is really going to change that.

              That’s right John, It’s all because the media is against you.
              If only you can sue your way to a fair and balanced media, the Republican Party will win the White House again. Keep thinking that.

              1. Yes, “bigger issues” like the fact that the media is biased and against the Republicans.

                The bigger issue that allowing the media to slander anyone it doesn’t like might have a real bad effect on free speech and political discourse. Do you really think they will only do it to Republicans or if they did that somehow makes it okay? Go talk to Bernie Sanders about that.

                1. If they stopped doing it to only Republicans, that would be an improvement, but keep dreaming.

                  But seriously, what makes you think that the Democrats won’t use slander suits against Republican critics? What if Hillary decided to sue FOX news because it made claims about her emails that she doesn’t like?

                  You know that lawsuits can be used to shut down media outlets on either side of the political spectrum. And will be, and already are. Hillary wouldn’t hesitate for a second to turn this weapon on Republicans.

                  I prefer more speech as the answer to slanderous speech. Not force. I’m not even sure slander or libel should be illegal. If you can prove your innocence, make the evidence public, end of story. Trump isn’t in jail, or dead, or seriously injured. The only thing that has happened is that a bunch of people think bad things about him, and his chances of winning the election are even worse. Whatever.

                  1. But seriously, what makes you think that the Democrats won’t use slander suits against Republican critics?

                    Under current law that is very unlikely unless the critic is really lying, in which case I think they should. Now that you at least understand the topic, do yourself a favor and reread the thread where I explain how that really is not much of a danger.

        2. Nice job turning the Republican Party into a reality TV freak show though.
          I hope you enjoy being the butt of everyone jokes for the next twenty years or so.
          But then, I suppose that will just feed your persecution complex.

          “Waaa. The big meanies in the media are just making us LOOK like reality TV freaks. It’s not like we nominated a reality TV buffoon as our presidential candidate or anything. Those liberals are just cruel meanies for making fun of us and painting us as backwards racist freaks. Waaa.”

          1. I will say this, the media’s theatrical whinging about Trump has been a pleasure to behold. These sanctimonious twats repeating in grave tones whatever dumb flap Trump uttered really does credit to their execrable profession.

            1. Dude, they’re not whining, they’re producing one long Reality TV special, with Donald Trump as the star.

          2. I know it sounds like whining, Hazel, but it’s persuasion.

            1. Ok, that make me laugh out loud.

          3. Yeah Hazel because they would never do this to anyone but Trump. This has nothing to do with Trump. This is about larger issues you crazy fucking cow.

            1. Of course they will do it to any Republican candidate. You just went out of your way to make it super easy for them. it’s almost like you WANT to be persecuted by the media or something …

              Just admit it. You LIKE it. You LIKE being a loser. You LIKE feeling like the media is against you and you can’t win because of the big bad liberal media. It’s a lot easier than recognizing that America has rejected you and you and your kind and the America of Donald Trump and his supporters is a thing of the past that is quickly fading into the sunset.

              Goodbye. Evolve or die.

              1. No Hazel, I just think libel is a legitimate tort action and it shouldn’t be eviscerated because the media is too stupid and dishonest to tell the truth.

                And you know I am right about that. You are just too fucking nuts and dishonest to admit it and instead try to make this some rant about Trump, which has nothing to do with the topic.

                1. The progressives hate their tactics used against them. They have used the courts for decades to control social trends because Legislatures won’t always cooperate with their agendas.

                  Anyone who feels they can bring a lawsuit for defamation deserves the same right to a jury trial as anyone else. The lawyers have used summary judgment to take power away from juries and give it to judges who are progressives themselves or get give political contributions from lawyers.

                  Truth is an absolute defense to defamation. All the media has to do is tell the truth and the Plaintiff (in this case Trump) would lose and depending on state law, have to pay all costs tot eh Defendant.

                  1. They have used the courts for decades to control social trends because Legislatures won’t always cooperate with their agendas.

                    There’s a progressive outlet called Lawfare that’s dedicated to doing precisely that. It’s a classic Alinskyite tactic of using the rules of liberal democracy against it to undermine that society so the Glorious Socialist Revolution can take place.

                    1. to wit, Rule #4 for radicals: Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules
                      “You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity.”

          4. Nice job turning the Republican Party into a reality TV freak show though.

            Somebody clearly hasn’t been watching the Republican Party for about the last 20 years or so.

            1. Or the Democrats, for that matter.

  2. The Daily Beast is the epitome of a high-class journalism.

  3. For a minute I was worried the commentariat might actually have a problem with a Top Man wielding the power of the state to harm jes’ folks, but fortunately we have Libertymike.

    1. Liberty Mike is right. The problem is the top men in the media lying about people. And they do it all the time and mostly against people who can’t fight back. If you tell the truth, you have nothing to worry about.

      1. Show us on the doll where the Kochtopus touched you, John.

        1. They touched me in my Richard Jewell around 1997.

          1. Grab its motherfucking Steven Hatfill

  4. Anyone can file a lawsuit. You can change the standard of proof for public figures as high as you like but that will do nothing to prevent figures from using the threat of having to defend them as a way to shut people up. Unless you plan to eliminate libel and slander torts entirely, raising the standard of proof against public figures will do nothing to stop the threat of frivolous lawsuits.

    All raising the standard of proof does is give the media a license to lie and. Or do their jobs. Shockingly The journalist writing this article thinks that is a great idea. I disagree. Truth is a defense to libel and anyone bringing a libel actions opens up their entire life to discovery. I think that does enough to deter frivolous suits or merit less ones. I am not a journalist and don’t seek to make my living as a hack reporting half truths and bullshit about people. I see the gen Richard Jewells whom the lying ass media destroy for sport for every Donald Trump who might actually fight back and worry about the Richard Jewells of the world more than I do the poor journalists actually being expected to tell the truth

    Reason with needs to hire a lawyer to cover these topics or stop covering them because this shot is embarrassing.

    1. Not sure what this has to do with Anti-SLAPP though…

      1. Read it again. Anti Slapp won’t discourage abusive lawsuits unless you eliminate the ability to bring one altogether. All they do is give the media a license to lie.

        1. Not a Lawyer so I’ll defer to Popehat:
          “Imagine, again, that you’ve sued me for defamation and BIFD. I file an anti-SLAPP motion. First, that stays discovery in the case ? no more bleeding me dry or harassing me with depositions and document demands and third-party subpoenas. Second, once I file the motion, your die is cast as a plaintiff ? even if you drop your suit at this point, I can insist on pressing forward, getting a ruling, and seeking the fees I’ll describe below.

          First things first: I have the initial burden of showing that you are suing me based on rights protected under the anti-SLAPP statute. Speech protected by the statute may be narrower than all speech protected by the constitution and state law ? but it’s still extraordinarily broad. Here’s what California’s statute protects:”

          Paraphrase would be: “The only thing that excludes, really, is a statement on a purely private issue not of public interest. But California courts construe “public interest” very broadly.”

          Don’t remember how to embed hyperlinks, never bothered to learn shit for HTML.

          1. All that does is allow deep pocketed defendents to threaten the victims of their slander into not suing them. Dopehat acts like the only issue here is free speech. No there is the competing interest of people who have been slandered by deep pocket defendants being able to recover. All anti slap lawsuits do is raise the stakes of bringing suit and allow defendants to threaten plaintiffs with financial ruin. You don’t think what I said was protected but you never know for sure what a judge will think. Want to chance paying my fees that he doesn’t agree?

            1. I’ll take the possible, very esoteric threat of being slandered and having the obligation to make a decent case in a summary hearing over merits vs. the much likelier potential of being sued for slander by some thin-skinned prick and having his teeth knocked in by the court.

              1. This whole discussion is pointless considering that John’s entire argument is motivated by his loyalty to the Trump campaign.

                1. Go fuck yourself Hazel. My arguments have nothing to do with Trump. You make it about Trump because you are fucking moron who thinks that anything that works against Trump must be good.

                  What is pointless is fucking morons like you who can’t see any larger issues other than whatever ax you have to grind fucking up the conversation. Go away. You are just a troll on this issue.

                2. This whole discussion is pointless considering that John’s entire argument is motivated by his loyalty to the Trump campaign.

                  Nearly all the comments I’ve seen from HazelMeade in the past six months are some variation of “Trump: What an Asshole”, so I don’t know what to make of this. Form of projection, or something?

              2. That is what rule of law is. If there is a law (in this case defamation), then it does not matter what the actual or perceived motivation is. It matters only what the plaintiff can prove. The plaintiff has the preponderance of the evidence burden, which is really 50.01% of the evidence in the Plaintiff’s favor.

                I guy like Trump was a person who used his reputation in the business World to make money. If you defame him by saying things that are not true, it can hurt him financially. He probably has a claim against the person/business defaming him.

                Just because you don’t like Trump should not matter. Everyone deserves Equal Protection and Due Process in court.

            2. Sorry, I got to Dopehat and realized the degree to which you are not thinking but instead purely emoting.

              1. Mike M. blushed when he read that.

              2. Okay, so you have noting to say in response to my point. Thanks for letting me know that. If you think of anything to say, get back to me.

          2. If the lawsuits are being brought to harass by richy-rich guys, anti-SLAPP doesn’t do much either. They don’t care about paying your fees, and fighting the SLAPP motion also costs the defendant time and money.

            Would it affect defamation lawsuits at the margins? Probably, but those margins might not include the Trumps and Thiels of the world.

            1. Bingo RC. anti-SLAPP laws only will deter the plaintiff who doesn’t have deep pockets.

              1. John, over the years, I have changed my mind on defamation. I used to be an absolute, absolutist on all speech being protected, even libel and slander.

                Even here, you could dig up some posts of mine where I expressed this view to which some responded with the question, “how would you like it if you were publicly branded a child molester”?

                1. I have too Mike. I have always believed in the tort but I worried more about ti being abused to suppress speech than I did about the media slandering people and that power being used to suppress dissent. That is mostly because I was naive about how this country actually worked and didn’t understand how police states use the media to slander and discredit dissidents.

                  Over the years cases like the Richard Jewell case, the Duke LaCrosse case, NBC selectively editing the Zimmerman 911 call to make him look bad and others have made me less naive about how this country and the media actually work. And I also released how this works in other countries. All of this has changed my mind about the issue.

                  1. On a personal note, I have been working on a case in which a very good friend was falsely accused of having engaged in sexual harassment.

                    He had been a patron of a non-profit for 25 years. The non-profit operates its own island – off of one of the New England states. My friend and his wife would attend a conference there, every year. The conference would last a week. Through the years, he had made several friends and both he and the friends he had made would look forward to the annual conference.

                    A couple of years ago, he was told by the executive director of the non-profit that he was no longer
                    permitted to come to the island because he had sexually harassed an employee of the non-profit the year before and that he had solicited a sexual favor from the employee.

                    The executive director told my friend this in front of his wife and three or four other people. The non-profit’s lawyer sent me a letter in which the defamatory statements were repeated (btw, there is authority for the proposition that a letter sent to a party’s attorney containing libel is actionable).

                    The whole affair has really hurt my friend. What also aggravates me is that the non-profit is a progressive “Christian” church that worships at the altar of diversity, multiculturalism, and global warming.

                    1. Mike,

                      There are thousands of cases like that. I have seen people’s military careers ruined by false accusations of harassment. Even though they were later cleared, there was no undoing the damage the accusations caused to their careers and reputations.

                      I think people like Sullmn and Ken White are utterly myopic. They are so detached from reality that they think the real danger in the world is the poor defenseless New York Times being sued by that big meany Donald Trump. What they don’t understand is that most people live under the very real threat of having their careers or lives ruined by a slander.

                      The example that White gives to support these laws that Tulpa or whoever is running the troll sock puppet accounts these days links to is very illustrative of what a dope White is. He thinks it is great that someone who accused a student of rape was able to avoid a lawsuit using these laws. The guy was never prosecuted and sued for libel to get out going before a university kangaroo court and White thinks it is great his suit was thrown out of court. It never occurs to White that the woman might be lying and the plaintiff is the actual victim here. I really can’t stand that guy.

                    2. Although he was defending the posters here, I am sure that you will recall that he was not very charitable in his comments about us during the woodchipping saga.

                2. Defamation is the harming of someone with lies. Public officials are usually exempt from the public defaming them.

                  Even the Founding Fathers were fine with fighting words (assault), inciting a riot and defamation as unlawful disturbing of the peace.

                3. “I used to be an absolute, absolutist on all speech being protected, even libel and slander.”

                  My take is that the First Amendment doesn’t protect you when you’re violating other people’s rights with your speech any more than the Second Amendment protects you when you’re violating other people’s rights with a gun.

                  1. Yes, I have come around to your take, Ken.

  5. The episode underscores the author’s point about the speech-chilling impact of SLAPPs by thin-skinned rich people.


  6. This might be a little more scary if we were not in world where the press is colluding with their favored presidential candidates or being recklessly careless about facts in order to push an agenda like in Rolling Stone “Jackie” story.

    1. And remember the victims of media slander are nearly always people unlucky enough to be in the spotlight like the Duke Lacrosse players or fraternity at UVA or Richard Jewell. Sullumn doesn’t give a shit about them. It. Let Rolling Stone or the Times be expected to check their facts and my God that is the end of the 1st Amendment

      1. We have a dishonest and sensationalist press who thinks their job is not merely to inform, but to guide the result towards a leftist end. Trump may be frivolous (though I think suing Maher for breach of contract is amusing), but the press is breaking their institutional credibility for social justice activism and this is part of the reaction.

  7. This is a “study” by the ABA “commissioned” was conducted by a woman who had published an article on October 8 entitled “Donald Trump Can’t Shut Down New York Times Tax-Leak Showing He Lost Nearly $1 Billion in 1995” for the Daily Beast. I’m not saying Trump has the high ground here, but can we please dispose of the pretense that this was anything other than a hatchet job?

    1. Would you then argue that Donald Trump isn’t prone to frivolous law suits, and using the threats of his legal team to bully people out of words and actions?

      1. I don’t know. Show me some evidence he is because this isn’t it. If someone accuses you of assaulting them and you deny it, you should sue them. Let’s put everyone you included under oath and see what the facts are.

      2. Somehow, I find myself lacking a whole lot of lot of sympathy for the legal teams of the NY Time, the Washington Post and the American Bar Association.

        Again, though, what I think about the merits of the claim are beside the point. The ABA’s “study” was conducted by someone whose conclusion on the matter was already foregone. Maybe Trump is prone to frivolous lawsuits. But, the fact that someone who’d already claimed his lawsuits were frivolous reached that conclusion doesn’t give me much reason to conclude that either way. And it generally shouldn’t.

        It would be like commissioning a study on whether Hillary Clinton’s e-mail behavior broke the law. Conducted by Trey Gowdy and Ted Cruz.

    2. Related is this section: Seager notes that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen nevertheless used the Monnin case to threaten a Daily Beast reporter who last year inquired about Ivana Trump’s 1993 claim that Donald had “raped” her when they were married.

      “Rape” is in quotations, because The Daily Beast reported in 2015 that she said she “felt violated” and did not mean rape in the criminal, or literal sense. But hey, let’s just keep asking if he is a rapist, because that word has no meaning.

      There are enough horrible things to write about the guy.

      1. And if they can do it to Trump they can do it to anyone. I wonder how Reason would feel if they were doing that kind of slander against Gary Johnson?

        1. I tend to agree with you. Plus, he is just threatening lawsuits, which I understand can be a burden, but maybe don’t publish harmful, unverified shit if you can’t defend it.

  8. Protip: define your terms.

  9. I wonder what the ABA’s stance is on Citizens United and Hillary’s desire to eviscerate the First Amendment.

  10. So, Trump is probably going to get his head handed to him, and reason is still talking about him instead of the wikileaks and Hillary’s (additional) illegal acts?

  11. Trump might be completely indefensible if he weren’t running against Hillary. Unfortunately, Hillary isn’t just a threat to the Second Amendment rights, and her winning the White House doesn’t just make single payer all but a foregone conclusion. Hillary also represents a serious threat to the rule of law.

    Nothing undermines the rule of law like an executive who flouts the rule of law but maintains all the pretenses of legitimacy anyway, and if Hillary can manage to win a national election despite flouting the rule of law, even more Americans in the future will stop caring about the rule of law and simply start looking for a better strongman. Because of that, it probably is necessary to defend Trump to whatever extent he can be defended.

    Trump’s most recent attempts to silence his critics were in response to women coming out of the woodwork to pile on top of accusations against him–some with obvious financial incentives. The latter case is perhaps best epitomized by a porn star, whom reportedly launched a new website days before going public with her accusations, whose accusations mainly consist of Trump being demeaning towards women, and whose videos include doing bukkake and gang bang videos–which are a hell of a lot more demeaning than what she’s accusing Trump of doing.

    1. You know what helps prevent the media from using false accusations against your candidate?
      Don’t nominate a person who makes those accusations look credible.

      For example. If you don’t want people accusing your candidate of being a sexist pig that sexually assaults women, it helps to not nominate a guy whose been divorced twice, prefers supermodels for wives, has a history of saying sexist things, and runs the Miss Universe Pagent.

      1. You know what helps prevent the media from using false accusations against your candidate?
        Don’t nominate a person who makes those accusations look credible.

        Okay Hazel, slander is okay because “good people” will not be victimized by it. Yeah, that is some real sharp thinking there. Hey, why even have libel and slander actions at all? If your reputation is good, why do you have to worry.

        Please keep embarrassing yourself Hazel. It will ensure no one ever takes you seriously again, which considering your deranged state of mind is a good thing.

        1. Hazel has gone completely batshit.

        2. The point is not about whether slander is good or not. The point is that if you’re running an election campaign it’s fucking retarded to nominate someone who can so easily be slandered and have it be credible enough that people will believe it.

          You don’t get to October before the election and THEN say “Oh! The media tells lies! it’s so unfair!!!!”
          If you do that, then you can’t fucking complain that you lost the election. it’s your own damn fault for being stupid enough to nominate a guy like Donald Trump.

          And you know what? Libel law ain’t gonna change. You’re not going to stop the media from being liberal because Donald Trump files a couple of lawsuits and complains about them being biased. The media is still going to be biased next time, and the time after that, and the time after that. Tort law is not going to be the answer to why the Republican Party keeps losing.

          1. The point is that if you’re running an election campaign it’s fucking retarded to nominate someone who can so easily be slandered and have it be credible enough that people will believe it.

            Good for you but that has nothing to do with what we are talking about. It really doesn’t. We are trying to have a conversation here that really has nothing to do with the relative merits of Trump. If you were not bat shit crazy, you would understand that and not see it as an excuse to rant and rave about Trump.

            And you know what? Libel law ain’t gonna change.

            Yes it will potentially. Only California has an anti SLAPP law but other states may follow. That is what we are talking about you silly fucking cow.

            1. Good for you but that has nothing to do with what we are talking about.

              I get to decide what I’m talking about. And this is what I’m talking about.

              1. I get to decide what I’m talking about

                Sure. but you deciding to talk about it doesn’t make it any less relevant or crazy given the context.

              2. I get to decide what I’m talking about. And this is what I’m talking about

                Who knew Louise Mensch was commenting on this board for so many years?

      2. Yeah, that’s much more important than Hillary’s actual criminality and proven corruption. Did you forget they did the same shit to McCain, the NYT running a hit piece implying he had an affair with a lobbyist? They basically accused Romney of killing a guy’s wife with cancer, because he was such an evil corporate raider and misogynist? It’s more extreme this year not because of Trump, but because it take so much more slander to deflect from Hillary’s horribleness.

        1. Of course they did. It’s just that not as many people believed it or cared because having an affair with a lobbyist isn’t anything like rape, and John McCain doesn’t have a reputation for being a creep with women.

          You know what DID work? The “bomb bomb Iran” comment worked. Why? Because McCain was tortured in Vietnam. Because that made it easy for the media to portray him as slightly mentally unstable. They turned his “maverick” reputation around to portray him as a little bit crazy, and they used that comment as fodder.

          This is the game. You pick a candidate with as few character flaws as possible precisely so that they can’t do this shit, and so that people won’t just believe it. You pick someone with an impeccable reputation. You don’t pick a buffoon with an archive of dirt on him and then whine when the media pulls some of that shit out and uses it against him.

      3. Hello Hazel.

        Nice to see you again.

        Trump isn’t my candidate.

        And he wasn’t really nominated by the Republican Party.

        He got a minority of the votes, and he only won with the support of disaffected Democrats who flooded in to vote for him in states with open primaries. If you don’t want the Republicans to nominate someone like Donald Trump, maybe the progressive leadership of the Democratic Party should stop using social justice warriors to chase white, blue collar, middle class voters out of the Democratic Party and into the arms of a populist like Trump.

        Regardless, we can only choose between the options on the ballot.

        I’d rather be choosing between Hillary and Rand Paul, but Rand Paul isn’t on the ballot.

        1. Gary Johnson is an option on the ballot.

          Hey, I’d love to believe that the D’s rigged the Republican primary. But John is living proof that no, the Repulicans really are that fucking stupid.

          1. I said that the Republican primaries were overwhelmed by registered Democrats voting for Trump in open primary states.

            I said the white, blue collar, middle class is being chased out of the party (probably unintentionally) by the social justice warriors who run the Democratic Party.

            Some people find it hard to believe that being demonized for being racist because you’re white, homophobic because you’re Christian, selfish because you’re middle class, stupid because you’re unwilling to sacrifice your standard of living to combat climate change, etc. would make people leave the Democratic Party in droves.

            Those people may call themselves Republicans now, when people call them on the phone in surveys, but as the poll results in open primaries show, many of them are still registered Democrats. And they’re the ones who nominated Trump.

            The establishment Republicans fought Trump every step of the way.

            The Tea Party fought Trump every step of the way.

            Some Republicans supported Trump as a protest to political correctness, but it was Trump Democrats that won him the nomination–not Republicans.

            Trump won the first 13 of 16 open primary states, and he lost more than he won in closed primaries. Two of the three open primaries he lost were to native sons–he lost to Kasich in Ohio and Cruz in Texas. Trump was nominated by Democrats, but it wasn’t a secret conspiracy.

            It was average middle class Democrats fleeing the social justice warriors in the Democratic Party.

        2. Gary Johnson is an option on the ballot.

          Hey, I’d love to believe that the D’s rigged the Republican primary. But John is living proof that no, the Repulicans really are that fucking stupid.

          1. Johnson is an option, and I’ll probably vote for him.

            Either Trump or Hillary will be President.

  12. Yeah, I’ve heard the story about the boy who cried wolf, but what’s Trump supposed to do when the wolf really shows up–say nothing? Trump needs to do something reasonable to discourage others who could easily profit in this environment from accusing him for no reason at all, and under those circumstances, I have no problem with Trump defending himself against false accusations by people who may be simply trying to promote their pornography videos by accusing him.

    If we’re going to talk about candidates going beyond the standards of propriety, there are new accusations emerging at the Wall Street Journal suggesting that Clinton cronies paid off high ranking officials at the FBI to make the the email scandal go away. That’s a hell of a lot more interesting to me than Trump using perfectly legal avenues to go after people who he claims defamed him in the media–especially when Trump’s latest threat was made in retaliation against someone who genuinely seems to be abusing the legal process to further her career as porn star.

    1. Good post. I’ll bet you said the same thing when John Kerry was swift-boated, or Bill Clinton was impeached, right?

      1. I still don’t know much about Kerry being swift-boated. Was that about him throwing his medals over the wall? Was that about his position on the Iraq War? Was that about his foreign policy stance?

        Using defamation lawsuits to go after people for saying things about politicians because they don’t like his foreign policy stance is something I would not try to defend.

        I don’t think that’s what’s going on with the porn star.

        “At a live Los Angeles press-conference Saturday with lawyer Gloria Allred, Drake accused the Republican presidential nominee of “uncontrollable misogyny, entitlement, and being a sexual assault apologist”

        This woman does bukake and gang bang videos, and then she turns around and accuses other people of facilitating “misogyny, entitlement, and being a sexual assault apologist”? I read reports that she set up a new website for herself a few days before this press conference. How much you want to bet she’s made a ton of cash since that news conference?

        All I’m saying is that Donald Trump threatening to sue such people if they defame him is understandable and defensible.

        Don’t you see how that would be different from suing a politically motivated group of veterans because they oppose your foreign policy views?

        Don’t you see how that would be different from Bill Clinton suing witnesses that were testifying against him under oath?

        Because I opposed the Iraq War doesn’t mean I have to oppose the War in Afghanistan. You understand why, right?

      2. People who served with John Kerry said he was a liar. Why do you assume they were lying? I would support getting rid of the NYT v. Sullivan standard and letting Kerry sue those people if he thought they were lying. If he didn’t, then we could fairly assume they were telling the truth. Libel law serves a real purpose in telling us which accusations and resulting denials are credible.

      3. In both of those cases did the affected politician threaten to sue because the underlying facts were untrue and therefore libelous?

    2. “Yeah, I’ve heard the story about the boy who cried wolf, but what’s Trump supposed to do when the wolf really shows up–say nothing?”
      What Trump (or anyone, really) is “supposed” to do is only cry wolf when the wolf shows up. It may not be fair, but when you cry wolf people don’t just look at the evidence for the current cry, they look at all the previous false cries.

      Which is the moral of the story: people remember and aren’t always fair.

  13. I would point out that the number one tactic of police states is to have their state run media slander dissidents as sex perverts and criminals. This sorts of legislation, by depriving those who are slandered of any recourse in court, are a first towards that.

    Liberty Mike is dead on.

    1. I would point out that the number one tactic of police states is to have their state run media slander dissidents as sex perverts

      See: Malaysia

  14. In reference to my comment above:

    “The latest news is the Journal’s report Monday that Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime friend of Hillary and Bill, steered money to the campaign of the wife of a top FBI official. Political organizations under Mr. McAuliffe’s control gave more than $675,000 to the 2015 Virginia state Senate campaign of Jill McCabe, the wife of FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. Mr. McCabe, director James Comey’s right-hand man, helped oversee the probe into whether Mrs. Clinton mishandled classified information on her server.

    —-Wall Street Journal…..1477352522

    1. A thought. I think hillary deserves to be prosecuted for her crimes. They are apparently numerous. Who has the authority to press charges against her? No reasonable prosecutor apparently. That leaves congress. If congress charged her now, I’m sure she would be pardoned by obama. The Rs seriously fucked up letting trump win the nomination. It certainly appears that he will lose the election. Maybe congress waits until after she assumes office before doing their job. I believe doing so is taking an awful risk though. If the Rs lose their majority, I seriously doubt that any team D congresscritters would objectively look at the evidence and vote to impeach. It would be nice if they would, but I doubt it.

      As you have noted previously. This is how governments lose their legitimacy. I have certainly learned this year that laws are only for the little people.

      1. They won’t impeach her for anything she did before she became President.

        It’s political suicide.

        This is the main reason why I oppose Hillary: The surest, most time-tested way to undermine the rule of law is to put an executive in office who undermines and ignores the rule of law–but maintains his (or her) legitimacy.

        Putin is like that. Hugo Chavez was like that. They both held elections, too, but their legitimacy didn’t stem from winning elections. They enjoy(ed) a tremendous amount of legitimacy regardless of winning election and despite flouting the rule of law.

        Now that Hugo Chavez is gone, few in Venezuela care about the rule of law anymore. They want a new strongman who isn’t such an ideologue on socialism, but they don’t want to replace him with the rule of law again. They want to replace him with a better strongman.

        The same thing happened with Putin. The rule of law was so terribly undermined under communism, and what support it had mostly died under Yeltsin. The Russian people wanted a strongman, and when Putin is gone, the rule of law is just frivolous now–they’ll want another strongman.

        The American people are not unusual. If we elect Hillary Clinton as President, she will flout the rule of law just as she’s always done, and the consequences of that are the same everywhere. Support for the rule of law will start to erode even more dramatically over the course of her term. Same as it ever was.

      2. After Caesar, few clamored for the Republic anymore. The Roman senate persisted for 600 years after the Empire was founded? They kept holding elections and meeting. They just turned into the House of Lords, basically a vestigial organ.

        I would feel better if I thought the Republicans would impeach Clinton for what’s she done before, but that’s political suicide right after she won an election despite having done all those things in the past.

        1. I would feel better if I thought the Republicans would impeach Clinton for what’s she done before, but that’s political suicide right after she won an election despite having done all those things in the past.

          I think the Republicans won’t do anything mostly because they are spineless and are afraid of the left. (perhaps with good reason) I’m not so sure it would be political suicide though. It’s not like they would be impeaching obama who, for reasons beyond me, is a popular president. I doubt Hillary wins with more than half of the popular vote. I also expect voter turn out to be very low. I think that they could bring an iron clad case against her and have it not look they are just being partisan. It might even help highlight some of the blatant partisanship of the left to see a straight party line vote of impeachment when there is so much evidence of criminality.

          1. I hope she’s impeached, and I hope you’re right.

            I hope I’m wrong about Hillary, too. I hope she somehow transforms into a beautiful butterfly of a President, and everything I think I know about politics and economics turns out to be wrong.

            Being a patriotic libertarian is to be conflicted. I want what’s best for the country, so the more the country turns its back on libertarianism, the more I hope I’m wrong about everything.

            And if Hillary makes for anything but an awful President, I will be wrong about everything.

  15. Let me suggest a couple reforms off the top of my head:

    1) loser pays for all cases, including defamation, so if you’re sued for telling the plaintiff has to reimburse your expenses

    2) In defamation cases, the court must decide within, say, 60 days, or 30, whether the case is strong enough to go to the jury. Appeals from dismissals will be heard on a similarly expeditious basis. This will keep down the expenses, which in any case a losing plaintiff would have to pay under (a).

    1. if you’re sued for telling the *truth* the plaintiff has to reimburse etc.

    2. Your number two would make little difference. All you have to do is show some evidence you can win to get to the jury

      1. There’s not much I can do, since many state constitutions (and, I would argue, the 9th Amendment and the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th amendment) provide a right to sue for injuries to reputation. So there isn’t much one can do to chisel away at that right. I mean, the government wouldn’t mess with the *constitution,* right?

      2. Why should anyone need to justify themselves before the case is heard?

        I understand if the charge has no basis in law; e.g., the defendant didn’t do the things in question, is accused of doing something that isn’t illegal, is out of the court’s jurisdiction, too much time has passed, there is no evidence, etc.)

        But a judge making a determination on the merits of a case, apart from that, before the case is even heard?

        I have a right to due process. I have a right to a jury.

        1. You have to show that you have some evidence that establishes a cause of action. If you don’t allege a proper cause of action or don’t have at least some evidence upon which the jury could find in your favor, then there is no point wasting the jury’s time since no reasonable jury could find in your favor. The standard is low and is just “could any reasonable jury find in your favor”. If the answer to that is no, you can’t win under any proper circumstances.

          1. Right, sometimes a libel plaintiff uses a dubious legal theory or sues based on mere opinion – those should be tossed promptly IMHO.

            1. And they are. That is the other thing that Ken “Did I mention I am a first Amendment Lawyer” White doesn’t mention. We already have a system where by frivolous suits are dealt with. Maybe Dopehat was too busy studying 1st Amendment Law in law school and missed the Civil Procedure class where they discussed Federal Rule 12(b)(6). That is a motion to dismiss for lack of stating a cause of action. Unlike a motion for summary judgement, which occurs after some initial discovery, a 12(b)(6) asks the court to dismiss the action because it is facially invalid. So any libel action that seeks damages based upon opinion or protected speech can be disposed of via 12(b)(6). I call Donald Trump a poopey head. He being thin skinned sues me. My lawyers then file a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim because “poopey head” is an opinion and protected speech.

              And this is any more difficult than filing a SLAPP motion how?

              1. My suggestion is that these motions be dealt with rapidly, as in a month or two. If the case is bogus, throw it out promptly and then decide on sanctions for the plaintiff.

    3. And I’d advocate a single standard of proof whether the plaintiff is Senator Claghorn the “public figure,” or Bob the hitherto-obscure gardener.

    4. I have no problem with the way our defamation laws are presently.

      The tremendous obstacles to winning a defamation case are already more than effective in discouraging frivolous suits.

      The best things about American defamation law are that we require the plaintiff to 1) prove malice and 2) prove damages. The malice standard is what protects sites like Reason from being sued for the comments people write on their site, and the damages standard means the burden is on the plaintiff to quantify and prove that the speech in question was, in fact, damaging.

      How can Trump quantify that what I say about him here is damaging?

      Those are all the protections against frivolous suits that we need.

      In countries that don’t have those two standards, like the UK, Canada, and Australia, it is not uncommon for politicians to sue news organizations for libel.

      Loser pays might even encourage more frivolous suits. The prospect of having to pay for your own suit regardless of whether you win drives people to compromise and settle–and that is far better than having cases decided by the government.

      1. Just for the record, here are two recent examples:

        “WA Liberal MP sues over ‘smut’ reports”…..1477407654

        “Ontario MPP threatens lawsuit if Jason Kenney doesn’t apologize for ‘defaming’ comment”…..s-to-china

        Thank God for the First Amendment.

        It’s what makes us American.

        1. Supposedly, the guy in the first article *did* write a racy novel – and whether it’s “smut” seems a matter of opinion.

          Also, if we believe the summary in the report (and it’s a report in a newspaper with an interest in making libel plaintiffs look bad) – then he *did* leave his wife and take up with his girlfriend, but he claims there was enough of a decent interval between the two events to make it not so bad.

          If the report is correct (and who knows if it is), then he’s suing not because he’s a faithful husband unjustly accused of adultery (which would certainly be libelous), but because he thinks his actions were OK and the press unfairly says they’re not OK.

          (Note to his lawyers – you may have a better case than the article says, who knows).

          1. For the second story, I’m not sure whether the alleged defamation was in reporting that the guy had been investigated for wrondgoing, or whether the defamation was actually insinuating that there *was* wrongdoing. If the newspaper said there *was* wrongdoing, and there *wasn’t,* then sure the guy should be able to win.

            OTOH, saying a politician was investigated simply lets the reader know what’s going on in the government so (s)he (the reader) can form his/her own conclusions.

            1. Just for the record, I wasn’t trying to cite the merits of any particular case.

              I meant to show that in Commonwealth countries, politicians suing the press, et. al. for defamation isn’t entirely uncommon.

      2. “In countries that don’t have those two standards, like the UK, Canada, and Australia, it is not uncommon for politicians to sue news organizations for libel.”

        I would say the main differences there are (a) no “actual malice” standard for “public figures” and (b) defendant has the burden of proving that the allegedly defamatory statement is true.

        The U.S. has the double standard by which it’s harder for “public figures” to win their cases on the ground that they already (supposedly) have access to the media and can rebut the accusations – which usually boils down to “Senator denies sheep-molesting charges.” Also, U.S. plaintiffs have to prove the charge false, rather than defendants having to prove it true.

        I’d say that if, in fact, a politician has access to sympathetic media, that should help call in question whether the accusations were actually damaging, or at the very least mitigate the amount of damages.

        But as for the double standard – there is a section of the public which likes watching public figures get tormented, and another (probably overlapping) section of the public which assumes that politicians and celebrities are arrogant and crooked and deserve getting taken down a peg.

        So public figures have a special vulnerability to being lied about and having the lies believed. Their main advantage is their ability to pay for a good libel lawyer unlike Bob the gardener.

        1. “I would say the main differences there are (a) no “actual malice” standard for “public figures” and (b) defendant has the burden of proving that the allegedly defamatory statement is true.”

          The main difference between the U.S. and the Commonwealth countries on defamation is that in the U.S., the defamation laws had to evolve in such a way that they still allowed for people to exercise their First Amendment rights to free speech. In the Commonwealth countries, they don’t have the First Amendment, so the defamation laws didn’t evolve that way.

          Telling the truth certainly counts to some extent in the defense of both countries, but much more so in the United States. But in Commonwealth countries you can be sued for printing true things about people if they’re defamatory. If you don’t have to prove damages and you don’t have to prove malice, then speaking the truth is only so much of a defense.

          The malice standard in the U.S. protects a number of things. In order to be found guilty in a slander or libel case, the plaintiff may need to show that the defendant knew the statements they made were false at the time they were made. If someone made a statement because they believed it was true, that probably isn’t enough to establish malice. And if it was reported somewhere else, there may not be any compelling reason to doubt it.

        2. Defamation suits are notoriously difficult to win in the United States for those reasons and even harder for Trump if he has to prove damages beyond a preponderance of the evidence. His reputation is already in the shitter for a hundred other reasons. How is he going to prove that it was my stupid statement that harmed him to the tune of x number of dollars?

          In the U.S., we give people more leeway to criticize politicians, and it will be very difficult to prove that what someone said or wrote was intended with malice to harm that person rather than for some other reason. But individual politicians have the same rights as people as every other person. If you make up lies about Hillary, and she can prove malice and tie specific damages to your statement, theoretically, she should win.

          In practice, tying direct malice and specific damages to your statement are probably impossible.

          1. Here I’d agree with you – whether you’re Senator Claghorn or Bob the landscaper, you should have to prove you were actually harmed.

            Maybe the sheep-molesting accusations won’t hurt Claghorn because his supporters refuse to believe anything bad about him and his opponents thinks he’s a sheep-molester anyway, independently of the allegedly defamatory report.

            Whereas maybe such an accusation would cause Bob the Gardener to get fired and evicted and shunned by his erstwhile friends.

            In which case, it should be easier for Bob to win.

            (Assuming the charge is false in each case)

          2. That is all true Ken. And I think that is why NYT v. Sullivan is a bad rule. It allows the media to slander politicians without any or much worry about recourse. That sounds great because everyone hates politicians but it is really not. The rule allows the partisan press to destroy the reputation of anyone who rocks the boat or is in any way a threat to the powers that be.

            Who in their right minds would run a real campaign for reform when doing so will mean the media destroying your reputation with lies and you having no recourse?

            1. Though it’s not as if the media have to lie to go after a politician. They can simply make tactical decisions of what to cover and what to omit – about their favored candidate about about the candidate they hate.

              1. But specific claims like sheep-molesting, or acting as the agent of a foreign government – it’s in the public interest, as well as the interest of individual reputations, that damaging accusations of this sort get aired in court – if false, make the media pay, if true, make the plaintiff pay for trying to use the courts to cover up his misconduct.

                1. Yes,. Fusionist. If someone thinks Hillary is an agent of the Saudis, let them put it under oath and show their proof. And if Hillary wants to deny it, let her sue and put her connections to the Saudis, whatever they are, under oath and subject to discovery.

                  A lawsuit more than anything is a fact finding tribunal.

                  1. Yes, if there’s actually enough swing voters who are influenced by the original report – if the country is already so polarized that the public would think just as well/badly of her regardless of the report, then she should lose for lack of harm.

              2. It is very simple. I run for office. My opponents go and pay various women that have some claim to have been around me to have assaulted them. The media reports it with no regard to its credibility. I deny it but the public figures “there are ten women claiming it, three must be something to it” and the fact that there is no proof doesn’t undo the damage. Meanwhile, who do I sue? The women? They are likely judgement proof and doing so will allow Sullumn to accuse me of being thin skinned and nasty. The media has money but under Sullivan, I can’t win unless I show they knew it was false and published it out of malice, something that is virtually impossible.

                Basically I am screwed. I don’t see any reason why the media should get a pass when it lies about someone in the public eye, which is what NYT v. Sullivan really stands for.

  16. The ABA? I thought they went away in 1976?

    1. Mama Mia! They sure look to be aiming to give Trump his Waterloo.

  17. When those fucks in the media start losing their livelihood because people libel them, they might change their tune.

    Sorry, but the unconfirmed reporting of alleged sexual assaults as if they were the gospel truth SHOULD open media to lawsuits. Especially if the media are exposed as having an explicit bias against the person they are libeling.

    1. Trump’s campaign is over and he lost. Sorry. Move on.

      1. This is a whole lot bigger than Trump. It smacks at equal protection abuses and permits libelous behavior that simply should be open to scrutiny regardless of the net worth it’s victim has.

        1. No one cares about these petty scandals. Except maybe you.

          (Welcome to the Panopticon.)

          Jill Stein approves this message.

          1. I wonder if Mitt Romney cared about being libeled and slandered by Harry Reid and having that libel repeated in every major newspaper as if it were the truth…only for Reid to admit he was slandering Romney and say “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

            1. LOL. Even Romney wouldn’t want to sue him. Sorry but you’re an idiot.

              1. I’m an idiot because I think people should be able to,sue for libel regardless of their net worth?

                Oh, buddy. Ok.

            2. If I recall correctly (and have correctly identified what you’re talking about), Reid didn’t slander Romney, he idly speculated, in a very public way, on why Romney wasn’t releasing more tax returns.

              That said, Romney couldn’t win. Even if he had taken Reid to court and persuaded them that Reid’s statements weren’t speculation but accusations, he would probably have wound up revealing the tax returns in question. So it was a win-win for Reid and a lose-lose for Romney.

              It’s a pretty good maneuver if you can pull it off, but it relies on the target having a secret they feel is more important then shutting down the accusations.

              It also doesn’t depend on libel/slander laws so much as the transparency of the court system.

              1. IIRC, Reid slandered Romney from the safety of the Senate, and couldn’t be sued.

    2. How about criticism of Trump’s shitty taste in interior decor? Since that’s something Trump has actually sued over, unlike the recent allegations of assault.

      1. I’m specifically addressing the article.

        1. Are you sure you’ve even read it?

  18. The ABA rejected the report not because they feared a lawsuit, but because they knew they would so easily win.

  19. Because thin-skinned rich people like Trump will happily pay to inflict such punishment,

    At what net worth should somebody be able to,she another for libel? Is there a hard line you’d like to draw where equal protection no longer applies?

    no matter how groundless the claim,

    Which is what the courts are there to decide.

    can deter valuable speech,

    Define “valuable”.

    1. OT: What happened the other night in Happy Valley to the Buckeyes?

      1. Talk about a clusterfuck of coaching mistakes.

  20. You were wrong about Gawker, you’re wrong here.

    Write about Tort reform. That’s a problem. But moaning that “Rich People” are silencing the ability of hacks to hack to their hearts’ content… isn’t

    1. You really moved on that article like a bitch.

      Jill Stein giggled.

  21. The best defense against frivolous libel lawsuits used to hassle people into silence isn’t outlawing bad lawsuits, it’s having a court system where you can respond to a bad lawsuit by mailing in a one-sentence statement of innocence, skip your court date, and be found innocent if the plaintiff can’t prove malice. If it’s no hassle there’s no chilling of speech.

    1. My intuition agrees – I suspect untoward unintended consequences of anti-SLAPP. But having once benefited from it (indirectly), I am willing to let it slide for now. See how it goes.

  22. The tone of the report and ABA’s decision not to “publish” it so they don’t get sued reeks of something other than legal professionalism, to me. This stinks of politics and TDS. Makes me glad I’m not, and haven’t ever been, an ABA member, for precisely the reason that they were captured by the liberal/lefty/proggy march through the institutions a generation ago.

  23. This country needs to stop marginalizing those without power and lend an ear to the voiceless, like the, um, American Bar Association.

  24. Ken White is one of the more annoying people on the internet. Like most things he talks about, he is dead wrong here. Yes, there is a threat of rich people using the threat of litigation to silence people. That threat, however, is tempered by the fact that truth is an absolute defense to libel and suing someone for libel opens up your life to a lot of discovery. So the rich plaintiff has to weigh the risk that the defendant will defend himself and subject the plaintiff to some very intrusive discovery. If it is the case that the defendant is telling the truth and the plaintiff has something to hide, it is doubtful that plaintiff is going to want to risk that.

    The bigger risk and the risk that Dopehat doesn’t consider is the risk of the rich defendant using these statutes to bully an aggrieved plaintiff into not bringing suit. So big media slanders someone like the UVA fraternity. These statutes mean the plaintiff has to risk a rogue judge finding the statements protected and sticking them with the costs. Remember, the media thinks everything they say should be immune from suit and there is no guarantee a judge won’t agree with them. Yeah, you can appeal, but that is a long expensive process.

    1. Neither Dopehat or Sullmn give any actual examples of speech being quelled by such lawsuits in this country. Sure, there are cases of libel laws being used to go after unpopular view in Europe but Europe’s laws are different than the US. The notable cases of libel in the US seem to as far as I can see always involve deep pocketed media outlets slandering people like the Duke LaCrosse players or George Zimmerman and then hiding behind NYT v. Sullivan to try and avoid responsibility. Dopehat doesn’t seem to care much about the victims of slander, only the right of the media to engage in it.

      1. WRONG. (Said in my best Alec Baldwin Trump impersonation.)

        1. Thanks for the link. It shows Dopehat to be an even bigger idiot than I thought.

          Here the plaintiff wasn’t suing the school (with its money and lawyers) for disciplining him without due process. Rather, he was suing the individual complainant for defamation merely for reporting his behavior, forcing her to defend herself without the school in court. This was the absolutely right result, and consistent with other laws making reports of misconduct privileged from defamation suit. Absent this rule, whenever one college student accused another of some misconduct, the accused could retaliate with an expensive, stressful, all-encompassing lawsuit.

          His concern is that people accused of rape might sue their accusers. Basically dopehat wants to make accusations of rape immune from slander.

          Dopehat might actually be dumber than you, Tulpa or Shreek or whoever you are.

            1. Which part of Absent this rule, whenever one college student accused another of some misconduct, the accused could retaliate with an expensive, stressful, all-encompassing lawsuit.

              Do you not understand? Maybe the accused should retaliate, like when it is a slander.

              1. Sure, there are cases of libel laws being used to go after unpopular view in Europe

                You mean like this?

                1. Yes. and their libel laws are different you half wit.

                  1. Who’s dumber, me or Dopehat? Just curious.

  25. It’s so mean the way those big meanies in the media use people’s own statements against them to portray them as racist mysogynist fucktards. So. Mean. Why can’t they just be nice to Donald Trump? Why?

    1. Yeah Hazel, there is no larger issues here. Nope. It is not like the media hasn’t ruined the lives of any number of totally innocent people over the last 20 years or anything. Nope. It is all about Donald Trump.

      You never were that bright Hazel, but Trump has made you fucking nuts.

      1. Yes, I’m sure you would be writing thousands of words a day on the subject if Trump wasn’t the subject of these lawsuits. So sure.

        1. Yes. Hazel. Go back and look at the threads involving the Duke Lacrosse case or the UVA rape case. I said the same things. But that is because I am not an idiot and think about these things like you are.

          You are a moron Hazel.

          1. I’m sure back in 1992 you were out there with Move On talking about how horrible it was that the Republicans were using Bimbo Explosions against Bill Clinton.

            1. Sure. And I would have told you then that Bill Clinton should have sued. If we didn’t have NYT v. Sullivan, he could have. If he said those women were lying, he should have sued and said so under oath. And the women should have had to make their accusations under oath. Talk is cheap.

              Again Hazel, I think about these issues instead of just making everything a rationalization for whatever ax I am grinding today. You should try thinking sometime.

              1. “I’m sure if it weren’t Trump you’d be writing lots of words!”

                “Go back and check the threads.”

                “Well…I’ll bet twenty years ago, when the Reason blog didn’t exist, no one will find anything! HA! Gotcha!”

                1. I didn’t say check the threads on Bill Clinton. I said check the threads on the Duke Lacrosse case and the UVA rape case. Try again Scott.

            2. I’m sure back in 1992 you were out there with Move On

              MoveOn didn’t exist until 1998.

    2. Let’s keep in mind that Sullum was the same guy whining about how Hulk Hogan taking out a viscous gossip-mob conglomerate like Gawker was a threat to free speech.

      1. Let’s also keep in mind that Sullum is so rock solid libertarian that when I find myself in disagreement with him, I instinctively check myself to make sure it’s just a difference of opinion rather than me being wrong on principle.

    3. “It’s so mean the way those big meanies in the media use people’s own statements against them to portray them as racist mysogynist fucktards. So. Mean. Why can’t they just be nice to Donald Trump? Why?”

      Just speaking for myself, that isn’t my take.

      Mine is more about why the media is ignoring so many things about Hillary.

      Here’s a short list of Hillary stories that are getting short shrift.

      1) Hillary took money from foreign governments while she was the Secretary of State
      2) Hillary’s campaign paid people to incite violence at and shut down Trump events.
      3) Hillary’s cronies were given immunity without cause in the email scandal, and the FBI took it upon themselves to destroy their laptops without reason.
      4) Just yesterday, we learned that Hillary’s cronies paid off the wife of the lead FBI investigator into her email server.

      What Donald Trump says seems to be blown way out of proportion compared to what Hillary is actually doing.

      1. Stop it! You’re killing me! I had no idea schadenfreude and laughter could be life-threatening.

  26. Jeez, all you people arguing about the consequences of anti-SLAPP legislation. Intentions are all that matter.

    Loser pays. That’s all you need. Will some people forgo pursuing marginally meritorious suits for fear of being stuck with huge legal bills should they lose? Sure. But will it be fewer than the number who fold under the threat of an entirely frivolous suit brought specifically to threaten huge legal bills whether they’re right or wrong? Is it fairer that someone – even if perhaps erroneously found to be in the wrong – be saddled with huge legal bills rather than that everybody gets hit with huge legal bills?

    Is Donald Trump exactly the sort of person whom we need anti-SLAPP legislation to protect ourselves from, a whiny crybaby who goes around threatening to sue people at the drop of a hat just to fuck with them even though he knows he has no basis for a suit? Absolutely – he’s bragged about that and he’s proud of the fact that he knows how to fight dirty. Why in God’s name anybody would agree to fight Trump and his lawyers on their own terms is beyond me – I’d hire a couple of goons to bash their heads in with a hammer and tell them if you wanna fight you don’t get to pick the arena or the rules.

    1. I think loser pays should go for criminal prosecution.

    2. But the media is bad and must be punished.

  27. This is the most outrageous outrage that I can think of, so thanks for the article.

  28. …worried about “the risk of the ABA being sued by Mr. Trump”

    We can all agree that their music sucks, but is it actually bad enough to warrant a lawsuit?

    1. I find it laughable that anyone can take the ABA’s claim seriously.

      Its obviously staged to make a partisan political point, plus, if Trump wants to sue them for what’s in the report, he can already. She wrote it as an ABA contractor, he can sue them on that basis alone.

  29. Remember also, if I make an accusation against someone and have proof, like a video or another witness, I can just release that and pretty much end any risk of litigation. If I say “Donald Trump called someone the Nword” and have it on tape, my releasing the tape is going to end any risk of him suing me since suing would just keep the tape in the public eye longer, something he likely doesn’t want.

    The only way I am risking litigation is if I have no corroborating proof. Lets say for the sake of argument I am telling the truth. If I don’t have any other evidence, I might still lose in court anyway. The case would come down to my word against his. So even with these statutes, I am unlikely to want to risk litigation. These statutes don’t accomplish anything except deterring legitimately aggrieved plaintiffs from bringing suit against deep pocketed defendants.

    1. Right, John, I’m sure you applied this legalistic standard and jaundiced eye to Bill Clinton’s accusers.

      1. Sure I do. And the fact that Bill Clinton never once sued for libel says a lot about their truthfulness. Moreover, the fact that Bill Clinton lost his law license for committing perjury in a sexual harassment suit he eventually lost says that his credibility in denying these things is very low.

        Try again dumb ass.

        1. John’s off his meds, everyone. He thinks that because someone sues for libel that makes him/her a great truth teller. Hahaha…oh… hilarious. You go Trumpster!

          Here’s a scenario that has probably occurred to everyone else but you, John. What if DT is just a litigioness asshole and Bill Clinton isn’t?

          1. If you are unwilling to put your denial under oath, why should I believe it? When someone slanders you, you should sue them. Moreover, when you are a known perjurer on these issues, which Bill Clinton is, you no longer get the benefit of the doubt.

            Son, did your parents know you were retarded and just wouldn’t’ accept it? Is that why you never got any help or seem to never get any brighter?

          2. Anti-SLAPP statutes constitute a constitutional tug-of-war.

            The Decalogue, including the First Amendment, were designed to protect a plethora of values. Freedom of speech is neither the only value protected by the BOR nor the most important one.

            How about the right of access to the courts?

            How about the right to a jury trial?

            “The right to sue and defend in the courts is the alternative of force. In an organized society it is the right conservative of all other rights and lies at the foundation of orderly government. It is one of the highest and most essential privileges of citizenship.” Chambers v. Baltimore & O.R. Co., 207 U.S. 142, 148 (1907).

            1. Bingo Mike. I don’t see how you can single out one tort and say you get less access to your day in court than every other tort.

              1. John, see my post up-thread regarding my friend who was falsely accused of soliciting a sexual favor.

            2. To be sure. That’s why I’m not for hindering one’s access to the courts by imposing things like “Loser Pays” rules that hinder a plaintiff’s access to the courts when they have less financial resources than the defendents.

              What’s that got to do John’s thesis– that the mere filing of a libel suit enhances one’s credibility?

              1. So, you’re perfectly fine with the defendant having to absorb all their own costs in a case that has been concluded in their favor?

                See how that actually hinders the defendants access to the courts, turning an attempt to mount a successful defense into a losing proposition for the defendant even if they win?

                1. You mean like DT would have to absorb all of the legal costs in his laughable libel cases against the ABA? Can we just pass a law so that such a framework exists just for him?

          3. Funny that the National Socialist is not aware that DNA test results were what changed Slick Willie’s story…

  30. ABA Rejects Report on Trump’s Frivolous Lawsuits, Fearing a Frivolous Lawsuit

    What a douche. Jacob, the cartoon of Trump is spot on. Fortunately, there’s a lot of smart people– including the libertarian writers here– that aren’t going for Trump’s bullshit. The smarter you are the less inclined you are to vote for someone who labels immigrants as rapists and to minimize sexual assault on the part of said candidate.…..obile.html

    “Mrs. Clinton was helped by female and *well-educated* voters” [emphasis mine]

    1. there’s a lot of smart people

      Oh the irony coming from a socialist. Project much?

      1. I’m just saying that basically the entire writing staff here at Reason has come out against Trump to the extent that they’re drawing cartoons of Trump in his diaper. They must know something that the commentariat– a much more ambivalent audience– doesn’t.

        1. AmSoc just can’t stop with the “Top Man” reflex.

          Obviously, if the Reason staff disagrees with the rabble, then the Reason staff must be right, QED, because they are, well, staff, professionals, etc.

          1. The reason staff are a bunch of 20 something liberal arts majors with no real credentials or experience in much of anything. Meanwhile, at least three of the rabble (you, me and Liberty Mike) are practicing lawyers. If reason wants to be a part of the top men cult, could they at least be top men? It is a bit galling to suffer condescension by someone who is your inferior.

  31. This is looking better and better. I’ll bet bookies in Ireland are going over charts for Lincoln, McKinley, Garfield, JFK, Bobby, Wallace, Ford, Reagan and Clinton and scratching their heads to figure the odds on Gary ending up as Designated Survivor. Partisan fungibility might well explain how Bernie, Biden, Pence (?), Ryan (?) and Aleppo (?) all came in at better odds than Gary.

  32. Just think of the employment opportunities that The Donald is bringing to the legal sector.

  33. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….


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