Florida attacks the First Amendment. Right wing media concerned.

The legislation proposed would gut First Amendment rights to a frightening degree. Right wing media is very concerned that they will be shut down by lawsuits from the left. Be careful what you wish for applies here.

28 thoughts on “Florida attacks the First Amendment. Right wing media concerned.

    1. It’s supposed to be gifted.

      I’ll check again.

      The idea is to overturn Sullivan v. NYT, allow easier suits for defamation, pick friendly judges in the state, etc.

      Right wing media is concerned because liberal personalities could also sue, obviously.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. The DeSantis law seeks to outflank the SCOTUS ruling in New York v. Sullivan making it easier for people like Trump and DeSantis to intimidate journalists with threats of libel lawsuits. Conservative media understand that is a blade that cuts two ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OK, found other sources.

    The objection seems to be about who is defined as a public figure.

    Defamation claims made by public figures are considered valid only if they can prove actual malice in false claims made against them. For regular citizens, a lower standard of reckless disregard for the truth is a valid claim.

    The proposed law simply narrows the definition of public figures. It would not consider a person who did not seek notoriety a public figure just because the media or social media has placed them in the spotlight.

    For example, if a political candidate is accused of being racist by a newspaper, he can’t claim defamation unless he can show the paper knew it was untrue and published the statement simply to hurt him politically and not just because it sold papers.

    On the other hand, if a crime victim defends himself with lethal force, an untrue claim that he was racially motivated would be defamatory. But recently, some media have claimed the public figure limitation would apply simply because the case gained a wide following on social media or the person spoke out publicly to tell his side of the story.

    The proposed bill sounds pretty good to me.


    1. Like I said, be careful what you wish for. Calling someone a groomer, for example, would attract lawsuits in a heartbeat. Or just a politician supporting a case based on that person.

      That includes talk radio, online media like Breitbart and others. FOX and Dominion is a good example of breaching the high bar of Sullivan. Imagine if that bar were not there, that is to show reckless disregard for the truth even if the truth is known or actual malice.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. RE: “The objection seems to be about who is defined as a public figure.”

      Another objection arises from this statement in the legislation: “Defamation is and should be purely a matter of state law.” The text goes on to explain that New York Times Co. v. Sullivan “federalizes” defamation law to the detriment of a state’s interest in and ability to protect citizens’ rights as societal changes (e.g., new media platforms) occur.


      I suspect this is the real reason liberals object to the act. After all, if Florida wants to wrestle with 1st Amendment issues all by itself, then other states may want to. God forbid that we should have laboratories of democracy in this country.


        1. Of course we do. If there are strong constitutional arguments for and against Florida’s law, let them be tried.


          1. Legislatures OUGHT to respect the Constitution and SCOTUS precedent when passing laws. Otherwise we will be spending BILLIONS on courts to keep them in line. Of course, it is not surprising that a Legislature dominated by MAGATS does not care to follow the Constitution.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. RE: “Otherwise we will be spending BILLIONS on courts to keep them in line.”

            Got it. Fascism is cheaper than democracy.


          3. RE: “It takes a real dope to equate respect for the rule of law with ‘facism.'”

            It takes a dopier dope not to see the equation. You are the one who wants to “keep them in line.”


          1. That is not the issue. Knowingly false stories with reckless disregard for the truth while knowing the truth, and or malice is already covered in the Sullivan case.

            Like the Dominion case. A little known company outside of election officials, was slandered for profit by FOX and will now probably prevail.

            Or Alex Jones slandering the common citizens whose children were slaughtered in CT.

            No need to apply dictatorial clamps on our press freedoms to pander to the extreme right MAGA folks.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Nope,

            For public figures, actual malice is required.

            If, John Doe, a dental photographer, is falsely accused by the Virginian Pilot of child porn. he can sue and if he can show the Pilot knew, or should have known, it was false, Doe could win damages.

            But Doe is a well known city councilman, he will have to show actual malice.

            What the proposed FL law would do is protect Doe the photographer from being considered a public figure through no fault of his own, such as a video of him speaking at a school board meeting having gone viral.


          3. “ The constitutional guarantees require, we think, a federal rule that prohibits a public official from recovering damages for a defamatory falsehood relating to his official conduct unless he proves that the statement was made with “actual malice” – that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

            Reckless disregard and knowledge of falsity.

            Liked by 2 people

          4. “Where in the Bill of Rights is the right to slander common citizens with known untrue smears?”

            “Common citizens” already have full recourse to the courts to deal with slander and defamation. This law is to allow government to intimidate the press with threats of lawsuits. It directly attacks the Freedom of the Press and SCOTUS precedent.

            Since it is the “conservative” media that is constantly spreading outright falsehoods I should be in favor of such a law. But, still, I think Freedom of the Press is more important than the political advantage to be had by dragging the lying liars into court.

            Liked by 1 person

      1. “…laboratories of democracy in this country.”

        Sure, just like gun legislation. Religious rights. Right to a jury trial.

        Which ones do you want to play with?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “So rights guaranteed by the Constitution are just suggestions for the states to recognize or not?”

          So called “states’ rights” are guaranteed by the Constitution. Do you think they should be cancelled for all time based on random judicial rulings?


          1. Are you saying a state can override the rights enumerated in the first 10 amendments because of “states rights”?

            Perhaps requiring you to provide room and board for the National Guard if in town for a special reason? Or arrest you for criticizing the Governor?
            Requiring office holders to be Christian only.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. RE: “Are you saying a state can override the rights enumerated in the first 10 amendments because of ‘states rights’?”

            No. I’m pointing out that rights guaranteed by the Constitution are never “settled” once and for all.


          3. Possibly. The details of rights are vague. When
            Court cases revolve around the placement of commas and historically selective writings by folks in the 18th century, confusion reigns.

            Jury of peers. Considered to be citizens. But literally interpreted it has created an industry in jury selection advisors.

            Liked by 2 people

    3. “…the case gained a wide following on social media or the person spoke out publicly to tell his side of the story.”

      Once you shed your private persona to go public with thousands or millions of retweets or likes on social media, you are, by definition, a public figure. In pre-internet days, you would take out an ad, state your position on, make a case for, or disavow your actions. Then the media is allowed to respond as they see fit. At that point, Sullivan kicks in.

      But even if you remain private, there are slander laws also in place.

      DeSantis is just being a dictator wannabe to suck up to MAGA voters.

      Liked by 2 people

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