The backstory of the massive lawsuit against Mother Jones.
I too have been sued for defamation. My case was miniscule, idiotic–badly written, empty of any legal issue, meant quite obviously to harass and intimidate me and cost me money–but, unlike the Mother Jones case, was summarily dismissed. That is, five or so months after I was served, the case was dismissed by a judge without any extensive process other than my lawyer’s motion to dismiss, and the plaintiff’s response.
Unlike the Mother Jones case, my problem cost me virtually nothing. So in every respect, my five months as a defendant did not produce one extra gray hair, or one facial wrinkle, one diminished bank account, or one scared writer. I am intact.
I love Mother Jones. Indeed, I just gave their investigative fund a bit of money. Thus invested, I read every word of this nasty story. I’m sorry it cost Mother Jones so much to defend against this ugly lawsuit, to defend their First Amendment right to publish.
I’d like to hear that they were able to recover some of their legal fees from the man who sued them. It’s the way things are supposed to go in civil lawsuits. Guy who loses, pays.
Here is the entire First Amendment:
Amendment I: Freedom of religion, speech, and the press; rights of assembly and petition
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I’m linking to this story because it is a warning to all of us that, as the Mother Jones article says, a very rich man can use his vast wealth in an attempt to crush a magazine that investigates causes and freely publishes sharp journalism the politics of which are loathed by that very rich, very powerful man.
Of course, Congress, via the Constitution, can’t prevent anyone from suing anybody for anything at any time. And any one of us can be the victim of someone who launches a lawsuit.
What a dreadful country we would live in if this specious lawsuit against Mother Jones had, one way or the other, effected its purpose.