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Leftists Won’t Hold Themselves Accountable, the Courts Must

Litigation By Binnall Law Group - 2022/11/23 at 01:17pm

By: Jared Roberts

For too long, the left has felt emboldened to tell lies about America First Republicans. Emboldened by the lack of consequences they have suffered for such lies, emboldened by the power these lies have had in upending the lives of their political adversaries, these lies have grown commonplace. Examples include lies such as calling someone a white supremacist, a Nazi, a domestic terrorist, and more. It’s time the courts do something about that.

Everyone knows how reckless left-wing media has been in their storytelling about high-profile America First Republicans, but the problem runs much deeper. There are countless examples of public figures being defamed, but what goes unnoticed is the everyday, America-loving, private citizen being defamed. Defamed by neighbors, coworkers, and more, happening generally through social media. The left won’t hold themselves accountable for their lies, so the courts must.

These smear campaigns lead to consequences such as lost friends, business opportunities, and even careers. Those on the left see their idols in the media getting away with these lies, so they feel empowered to do the same. This is why it is so important that every American understands their rights to fight back against defamation.

For public figures, such as President Trump, there is a difficult burden to meet in defamation law. Public figures must prove that the lie was told with actual malice; the person spreading the lie must know that the statement is false or have a reckless disregard for the truth but told the lie, nonetheless.

For private figures, this legal standard is less daunting. When a lie is told about a private figure, the lying actor need only act negligently in spreading the lie, a much less demanding standard than actual malice. Negligence generally just means failing to do due diligence in ascertaining the truth of the statement before spreading it to others.

Courts must be willing to hear these defamation claims, act on them, and adapt the laws to prevent future lies. Public figures theoretically have large followings where they can counter the lies, but oftentimes, this is not enough, meaning the courts must step up. Further, private citizens do not have any opportunities to publicly challenge the lies, relying on the courts to be their avenue. America First Republicans should not be afraid to support the politicians of their choice.

There are certain actions the courts can take. The most feasible route could be getting rid of the actual malice standard in all facets of defamation law.

Punitive damages are designed to punish the wrongdoer and discourage future offenses. As it stands right now, while private figures need only show negligence to receive compensatory damages for the damage done to their reputation, to get punitive damages, to actually punish the liar, private figures must show actual malice. If we were to eliminate this standard, making punitive damages readily available anytime a private citizen proves a case for defamation, this would dissuade future lies. Punishing the liars for their lies is the way to prevent future lies, not merely compensating for damage to reputation and career. We must go above and beyond and actually punish.

Further, in order to prevent defamatory comments against public figures such as President Trump, courts could revoke the actual malice standard for public figures, reducing it to a negligence standard, just as private figures have. This would take the Supreme Court reviewing its 1964 opinion in New York Times, Co. v. Sullivan. President Trump’s case could be the perfect avenue to courts fixing this egregious actual malice standard in defamation cases. 

Another possible route is for the courts to limit the bureaucracies’ interpretation of 47 U.S.C. § 230. Currently, Section 230 protects social media providers from civil liability for what is posted on their online sites. This is because they are viewed as a platform for posts, not a publisher of those posts. As we’re all aware, however, social media companies frequently moderate the content from right-wing users but rarely the content from left-wing users. This could be a successful argument in showing that social media companies are publishers of news and not merely platforms, which would open them up to liability.

If social media companies were liable for the lies told on their sites about others, then they would have the incentive to moderate and remove such lies. As it stands now, left-wing persons can say just about anything they want without fear of reprimand to their social media account.

America will be a better place when those on the left can no longer lie with impunity about their political adversaries. The political and democratic process is severely hampered when one side of the political aisle is not able to speak their minds without fear of severe consequences in their personal life due to lies. If the left won’t hold itself accountable for lying about everyday America-loving citizens, then it must be the courts that provide protection. If you are defamed, you should contact a defamation lawyer immediately.