Judge Dismisses Notre Dame Professor’s Lawsuit Against Student Newspaper

Wide shot of the Notre Dame University Administration Building
Wide shot of the Notre Dame University Administration Building. Photo by Steven Elk via Unsplash

By The Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A judge Monday dismissed a University of Notre Dame’s professor’s defamation lawsuit against a student-run publication over news coverage of her abortion-rights advocacy.

St. Joseph County Superior Court Senior Judge Steven David found that sociology professor Tamara Kay’s assertions that The Irish Rover’s coverage of her was false and defamatory were unfounded.

“The Court concludes that Dr. Kay does not present any evidence that shows that The Irish Rover had any doubts about the truth of their statements before they were published. By failing to present such evidence, the Court concludes that Dr. Kay’s defamation claim fails as a matter of law,” David’s ruling said.

The case had raised questions about press freedom and academic freedom at one of the nation’s preeminent Catholic universities.

Kay’s lawsuit disputed some quotes the newspaper used and said it misinterpreted a sign on her door about helping students access health care. She had argued that her motivation was to support sexual assault victims.

An email was sent to Kay seeking comment on the dismissal of her suit.

W. Joseph DeReuil, the Rover’s editor-in-chief at the time, said in a prepared statement that he “was gratified to see today’s court ruling confirm what we at the Irish Rover were sure of all along: our reporting was completely factual and written in good faith.”

Kay had asked for unspecified punitive damages. Her lawsuit alleged she had been harassed, threatened, and experienced property damage as a result of the articles.