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More on Blog Lawsuits

By RHarrison | 30 July 2008 | Blogs | 15 Comments

Given the pedigree of this website, I thought some of you would be interested in this study.

It seems that many people have been trying to use the courts to silence annoying (but frequently accurate) bloggers.  And almost always fail.

It is unfortunate that the threat of a lawsuit that would have certainly failed was enough to silence the original BVBL.  Most people can’t afford to defend themselves against any lawsuit, even a frivolous one, which is why so many frivolous suits are brought.

Yet one more argument in favor of requiring people who file stupid lawsuits to pay the other party’s expenses.

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  1. MdMan said on 30 Jul 2008 at 4:26 pm:
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    It’s the “News” Papers like the POST, NY TIMES, and MJM that should be sued.

    Greg, you have done great work with this blog. Thank you very much for all that you do.

  2. NoVA Scout said on 31 Jul 2008 at 6:55 am:
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    It’s possible that a blogger could commit an offense (e.g., libel or slander) actionable at law that would cause monetary damages that the courts would properly order be redressed. We’ve all seen things that are false and damaging posted on websites by those who post and those who comment. We have no more right to spread harmful falsehoods on the web than we would if we stood on a soapbox at the crossroads of Lee Highway and Broad Street (just to use an example familiar to me) and shouted them at passers-by.

    On the other hand, this is a rough and tumble medium and everyone has to recognize it for what it is. Its vitality depends on folks being willing to dish it out and take it. To go to law over disagreeable speech is downright subversive in a society based on free speech and open debate.

    But do think before you speak (type). If you say something false and it causes another individual economic harm, you’re as vulnerable now to legal action as you would have been if you published a pamphlet to the same effect in 1840.

  3. Arlington Minority said on 31 Jul 2008 at 1:38 pm:
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    The very existence of our First Amendment–unlike in Canada where a Human Rights Commission is allowed to assume the role of speech police–forces those wishing to silence bloggers to engage the ACLU and their willing co-conspirators, the courts, to do their dirty work.

  4. Brian Leeper said on 31 Jul 2008 at 2:37 pm:
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    This sort of thing is referred to as a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”, or SLAPP.


  5. Anonymous said on 31 Jul 2008 at 4:21 pm:
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    In some states if your lawyer brings a frivolous lawsuit, he or she can get into big trouble with the bar. Unfortunately, the same people who can argue how many angels dance on the head of a pin also argue even when the frivolity is pretty darned obvious.

    It’s not nice to slam, insult, or demean people. It is fine to criticize them. Most of us know the difference.

  6. James Young said on 31 Jul 2008 at 5:28 pm:
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    I don’t think anyone is talking about “silencing bloggers,” AM. The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect liberty, not license. As Anon 4:21 observed, most of us know the difference.

  7. Michael said on 31 Jul 2008 at 8:20 pm:
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    Today I saw a lawsuit waiting to happen, suddenly and wonderfully disappear.

    Greg, if you have the time I suggest you do a blog article on it as important local news.

    Remember the big advertising sign on Centerville Road, that proclaimed that only females were good enough to operated on for knee replacements and heart surgery (an earlier sign) at Prince William Hospital for knee replacement and all others (those hateful men) were to be “excluded”?

    “The female knee” sign, that enraged every male that saw it?

    Well it just got quickly replaced with a hastely created new advertisement for PW Hospital.

    “We do certified knee and hip replacements”. Implying with no prejudice and discrimmination that they do such operations for everyone, no exclusions or favorites.

    Yes really, a victory for Men’s rights and needs for “equality” under the law. Now if the congress and states would just do them same for “Child Support, Alimony, Prostrate surgery and research, and 8A laws, we could truly claim we are a non-discriminatory society that treats everyone the same under the law regardless of race, gender, religion or ethnic group.

    I’ll bet the League of Women Voters (LWV) is just fuming about this…

  8. Arlington Minority said on 1 Aug 2008 at 8:44 am:
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    James Young, the purpose of the First Amendment is to ensure that no speech is silenced by those who disagree and who may otherwise have the power and resources to force silence. The pending revival of the “fairness doctrine” is an attempt to force the rationing of speech as well as thought.

  9. James Young said on 1 Aug 2008 at 12:01 pm:
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    Well, I would agree what you said about the fairness doctrine, AM, but that’s not what’s at issue here.

    You assert that “the purpose of the First Amendment is to ensure that no speech is silenced by those who disagree and who may otherwise have the power and resources to force silence.” That is clearly wrong. It’s purpose is to ensure that no speech is silenced by THE GOVERNMENT. Causes of action for libel and slander clearly survived its [the First Amendment’s] adoption, even as later construed in New York Times v. Sullivan. That it restricts only the government is one reason why it is certainly not a violation of the First Amendment for someone to punch you in the mouth for something you have said, or for a publisher to refuse to publish your letter to the editor.

  10. Arlington Minority said on 2 Aug 2008 at 11:28 am:
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    While the literal wording of the First Amendment prohibits laws that abridge free speech, the Supreme Court has extended this freedom much more broadly than the statute realm. Unions cannot force that political speech in the form of dues paid by members, for example, be forced in favor of one party or issue.

  11. James Young said on 2 Aug 2008 at 4:09 pm:
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    AM, as for your last example, I know a little something about that, as you may know.

    Actually, unions CAN require “political speech in the form of dues paid by members,” Kidwell v. TCIU 946 F.2d 283, 292-93 (4th Cir. 1991) (under the Railway Labor Act); consent is presumed from the act of voluntarily joining the union, by which one agrees to majority rule or, at least, rule in accordance with the union’s constitution and by-laws.

    It is only NONmembers forced to pay agency fees who have the right to object to subsidizing union political speech with forced dues. And the right to object arises, for public-sector employees, from the the First Amendment, as there is state action of government-enforced contracts (Abood v. Detroit Bd. of Educ., 431 U.S. 209 (1977)) and, in for private-sector employees, from the judicially-construed “duty of fair representation,” Communications Workers of America v. Beck, 487 U.S. 735 (1988), as the Court has heretofore evaded the question of state action under the NLRA. 487 U.S. at 761, citing Steelworkers v. Sadlowski, 457 U.S. 102, 121, n.16 (1982) (union’s decision to adopt an internal rule governing its elections does not involve state action); Steelworkers v. Weber, 443 U.S. 193, 200 (1979) (negotiation of collective- bargaining agreement’s affirmative-action plan does not involve state action).

  12. James Young said on 5 Aug 2008 at 1:39 pm:
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    Another good reason not to have a legal discussion on a blog: throw in a few citations, and it kills the exchange!

  13. NoVA Scout said on 5 Aug 2008 at 11:31 pm:
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    JY: AM was just setting you up.

  14. James Young said on 6 Aug 2008 at 11:17 am:
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    A good straight man is hard to find.

  15. americangal4ever said on 17 Aug 2008 at 5:56 pm:
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    forwarded by americangal4ever a plea from Walter Moore L.A mayoral candidate

    LA Money for Mexico
    Mexico’s Invasion: Two Hearings Tuesday Morning

    By Walter Moore

    Let’s start with the good news:

    The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is holding a hearing Tuesday, August 12, 2008 at 11:00, at which Sheriff Baca will make a presentation on his efforts to identify illegal aliens in jail and hand them over to ICE rather than releasing them back into our community to commit more crimes. The Shaw Family will attend, and would like you to join them if you can. (The address is: Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple Street, Room 381B, L.A., CA 90012.) Ideally, every single prisoner would be screened to ensure we deport every criminal we can, rather than playing “Russian roulette” with the public’s safety.

    Now the bad news:

    The Los Angeles City Council has on its agenda Item No. 36, a motion to obtain a $1.6 million grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

    The money, however, would not be spent in our city, our even our county, or even our nation.

    Instead, our City’s Department of Cultural Affairs — funded with your tax dollars — wants to spend $300,000 to build a “showcase pavillion” in Mexico for the Guadalajara International Book Fair. The remaining $1.3 million would go into a dedicated trust fund, to be used only for the “Guadalajara Book Fair.”

    The City Council — the same group that is too busy to vote on Jamiel’s Law — will take up this issue as part of its 10:00 a.m. calendar, in Room 340 at City Hall, 200 North Spring Street, L.A., CA 90012.

    I know this makes you mad. It should make you mad. But “mad” isn’t good enough.

    If you want to end the infuriating, obscene excuse for “government” we have in the City of L.A., you must take action. That means contribute as much as you can, as fast as you can, to my campaign. If you don’t contribute, I can’t buy the ads I need to reach new people. That’s just the way it is.

    You can also help spread the word by putting one of my bumper stickers on your cars, getting your friends to sign up for my newsletter, signing up for a yard sign, printing out flyers from my website and taking them to the next meeting of your civic club, and anything else you can think of. But you have to do something or the bad guys win. Click here to take action.

    And to those of you who have already contributed, gotten the bumper sticker, signed up for the yard sign, handed out flyers, etc., thank you. I truly appreciate your taking action. It is because of you that new people join our ranks every day

    I found this on a website which caters closer to L.A but we all must help.
    We all need to help to get L.A back to the American Citizens of L.A. Give to Walter Moore’s campaign. I know it is not Virginia but This city is on the front lines. They have been fighting this the longest.
    www.mooreisbetter.com and click on the top choice and it will take you to his web page. Do not send money anonymous He will have to return it or if he can’t return it it has to go to the city.Thanks for helping

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