Palin gets reprieve on defamation lawsuit against New York Times

The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that former VP candidate Sarah Palin should be given a chance to explain her accusation of actual malice in her defamation lawsuit dismissed in district court. Palin sued in 2017 over an unsigned editorial written by James Bennet who tried to make a connection between over-heated politic speech and the 2011 mass shooting in Arizona that wounded Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. The Court wrote, “It is clear to us that the district court viewed the hearing as a way to more expeditiously decide whether Palin had a viable way to establish actual malice. But, despite the flexibility that is accorded district courts to streamline proceedings and manage their calendars, district courts are not free to bypass rules of procedure that are carefully calibrated to ensure fair process to both sides.” (The Hollywood Reporter, August 6, 2019, by Eriq Gardner)

Before the shooting the Palin PAC had published a map with a crosshairs target over certain Democratic congressional districts including Giffords’. No evidence ever surfaced to connect the map with the mass shooting. And within a day of the article’s publication, the Times issued a correction saying the article was wrong to suggest a link. (Reason, August 6, 2019, by Eugene Volokh)

The appeals court found that the district court overstepped in deciding on the merits of the case rather than to determine if there was sufficient plausibility to proceed with the lawsuit.  (Courthouse News Service, August 6, 2019, by Adam Klasfeld)