Posted on | January 18, 2014 | 22 Comments
The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities, engaged in conflict-of-interest disclosure, went beyond just assembling others’ writings, or tried to get both sides of a story. As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable: “With the advent of the Internet and the decline of print and broadcast media … the line between the media and others who wish to comment on political and social issues becomes far more blurred.” Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 352. In defamation cases, the public-figure status of a plaintiff and the public importance of the statement at issue — not the identity of the speaker — provide the First Amendment touchstones.
It’s interesting that the Ninth Circuit cited the Citizens United case, which figured prominently as a casus belli for the anti-Clarence Thomas campaign of Kimberlin’s Velvet Revolution.
It’s also interesting that in neither his state nor federal lawsuits against bloggers does Brett Kimberlin mention his role in founding Velvet Revolution which, the last time I checked, was located at the same Bethesda street address — i.e., Kimberlin’s mother’s basement — listed on Kimberlin’s legal filings in both cases.