In a motion submitted on Monday, Powell’s lawyers argue that her statements are not actionable under defamation law because she made them as an advocate-attorney of Donald Trump. Dean of Missouri Law School Lyrissa Lidsky called this argument absurd: "Attorneys have ethical obligations not to lie, and she made the false statements in her capacity as an attorney."
Dominion lawyers are arguing that Mike Lindell used conspiracy theories about election fraud and voter rigging to promote his business.
Using defamation suits to combat misinformation has some free speech advocates uneasy, as the First Amendment provides broad protections for news organizations.
Fox’s lawyers argue that they had a First Amendment privilege to report newsworthy allegations–even false ones–in a neutral way. They also claim that Smartmatic failed to establish a key requirement of a defamation claim—that Piro, Dobbs, and Bartiromo acted with “actual malice.”
Smartmatic claims Fox spread lies about the company it knew weren't true in order to curry favor with then-President Trump and his base. The company expects it will lose almost $500 million in the next five years due to the impact the lies have had on its business.
On January 25th, Dominion Voting System sued Donald Trump’s former attorney and former mayor of New York City Rudy Guiliani for defamation. The 107-page complaint filed in the United District Court for the District of Columbia accuses Guiliani of carrying out a “viral disinformation campaign” against the voting systems company, and having “deceived millions of people into believing that Dominion had stolen their votes and fixed the election.”
On January 8th, Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell. Filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the suit alleges that during a press conference, rally, and media appearances, Powell “falsely claimed that Dominion had rigged the election, that Dominion was created in Venezuela rig elections for Hugo Chavez, and that Dominion bribed Georgia officials for a no-bid contract.”
On January 6th, President Donald Trump held a rally near the White House and urged his supporters to march on the Capitol where members of Congress were certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. “We’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you,” he said. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”There is no doubt that Trump’s speech was inappropriate, imprudent, rash, offensive, and even repugnant. But, it is more difficult to determine whether Trump’s comments constitute incitement to imminent lawless action, a type of speech not protected by the First Amendment.