The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 26 other organizations filed an amici curiae brief on August 11 with the DC Court of Appeals in Michael Mann’s defamation lawsuit against the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Review (sometimes popularly referred to as ‘Mann v. Steyn’). Prof. Mann is scheduled to file an appellate response brief on September 3.
Full text of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press et al. amici curiae brief is here.
The brief argues that the appeals court should take jurisdiction in deciding on the defendants’ anti-SLAPP motion and agrees with the essential substantive arguments made by defendants in their motion to dismiss the case. Mann and the defendants have laid out their opposing arguments on the merits in earlier briefs before the original trial court.
The brief argues that, in denying a motion to dismiss, the trial court “erred on the merits by failing to treat the commentaries at issue as constitutionally protected opinion and fair comment. The challenged statements were made in settings and using language that conveyed they were opinions.”
Thus, the position of the press organizations seems essentially to be that statements that many might regard as defamatory — libelous or slanderous — should be allowable as part of freewheeling media discourse and not be actionable. Their view that such speech in the media should be virtually unrestricted is not surprising. It’s certainly an arguable view and the brief argues it strongly. It’s not clear where they would draw the line on what constitutes actionable defamation.
Prof. Mann has responded earlier to these arguments, most of them at least, in his earlier filings. He is scheduled to file an appellate brief with the Court of Appeals on September 3. Then we’ll see where the court comes down on it.
Most recent earlier posts in our series on this case:
More on Mann v. National Review et al. (March 3)
Note on comment moderation policy: comments on this post, other posts on this case, and on our posts in general, are moderated based on our judgment with regard to relevance, timeliness, respect for climate science and scientists, and trolling.