Chickenshit American Bar Association Scared Out Of Publishing Report Calling Trump A Libel Bully
from the chilling-effects dept
We’ve talked a lot about Donald Trump and his ridiculous views on defamation and the First Amendment — including his penchant for threatening defamation lawsuits against basically everyone who says something he dislikes. He rarely follows through, though he certainly does sue sometimes.
In fact, someone has set up Trump-clock.com which lists out every known legal threat against the press or critics since his Presidential campaign began (ignoring the long list that predates the campaign). It also has a clock showing how long it’s been since Trump’s last threat.
So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that a group of media lawyers at the American Bar Association commissioned a report on Trump’s litigation history, and the report (correctly) concluded that Donald Trump is a “libel bully” making a bunch of bogus threats and with a history of filing bogus defamation lawsuits in court (something he’s outright bragged about). This shouldn’t be controversial. Trump is, clearly, a libel bully, and even he has more or less admitted that with his comments on why he sued author Tim O’Brien.
But, apparently, the American Bar Association was too chickenshit and refused to publish the report, out of a fear that (wait for it…) Trump would sue them.
Alarmed by Donald J. Trump?s record of filing lawsuits to punish and silence his critics, a committee of media lawyers at the American Bar Association commissioned a report on Mr. Trump?s litigation history. The report concluded that Mr. Trump was a ?libel bully? who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court.
But the bar association refused to publish the report, citing ?the risk of the A.B.A. being sued by Mr. Trump.?
David J. Bodney, a former chairman of the media-law committee, said he was baffled by the bar association?s interference in the committee?s journal.
?It is more than a little ironic,? he said, ?that a publication dedicated to the exploration of First Amendment issues is subjected to censorship when it seeks to publish an article about threats to free speech.?
With the ABA chilled into suppressing a report about Donald Trump chilling free speech, the Media Law Resource Center picked up the fumbled ball and released the report on its own. The opening executive summary is pretty clear:
Donald J. Trump is a libel bully. Like most bullies, he’s also a loser, to borrow from Trump’s vocabulary.
Trump and his companies have been involved in a mind-boggling 4,000 lawsuits over the last 30 years and sent countless threatening cease-and-desist letters to journalists and critics.
But the GOP presidential nominee and his companies have never won a single speech-related case filed in a public court.
The full article then goes on to examine in more detail seven speech-related cases, and uses the paper to argue in favor of stronger anti-SLAPP laws to prevent such speech chilling.
… this examination of Trump’s libel losses also provides a powerful illustration of why more states need to enact anti-SLAPP laws to discourage libel bullies like Trump from filing frivolous lawsuits to chill speech about matters of public concern and run up legal tabs for journalists and critics.
The ABA’s refusal to publish the report is really ridiculous, but only serves to highlight the issue here. When an organization that absolutely must know better is still too afraid to publish a report like this, it highlights just how successful Trump can be in stifling speech with just his threats. And, yes, this report eventually was released, thanks to some First Amendment lawyers who knew how ridiculous this was, but we don’t know how many others have been scared away into silence.