On June 2nd, the Department of Justice revealed that during the administration of former President Donald Trump, the DOJ acquired the phone records of four reporters from The New York Times. The phone records date from the first several months of 2017.
Which president in American history did the most for First Amendment freedoms either in or out of office? This is a deliciously difficult question because the vast majority of the occupants of the Oval Office were, at times, hostile to the First Freedom. Recent presidents simply do not make the grade for their in-office activities.
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.”
Twitter, Facebook, and a host of other privately-held companies have imposed bans on President Donald J. Trump, believing that his incendiary comments on January 6, 2021, helped fan the flames of outrage that resulted in an assault on the Capitol. Trump and others have decried the social media blackout as a direct assault on conservative points of view, and as a draconian targeting of only certain types of speech.
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.
On December 24, 2020, a federal judge dismissed a $250 million defamation lawsuit against The Washington Post that was filed earlier in the year by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). The suit, filed on March 3, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that Nunes was defamed in a Post article that referred to a conversation Nunes had with President Donald Trump about an intelligence briefing.
From the moment the 2020 presidential election was called in favor of Joe Biden, three prominent conservative cable companies, Fox News, One America News Network (OANN), and Newsmax have repeatedly questioned the accuracy of the results. Now Smartmatic, a voting technology company, is threatening to sue the networks for false claims they published or republished about its product.