Devin Nunes Loses Appeal Of SLAPP Suit Against Liz Mair

from the censorial-thug dept

By now you surely know that former Congressman and current satirical cow censor Devin Nunes has become quite well known for his series of SLAPP suits against people who made him feel bad. It started with his lawsuit against the satirical parody cow Twitter account, but that lawsuit also included political consultant Liz Mair, who has long worked for various Republican politicians, but was a semi-frequent critic of Nunes. That first lawsuit was for $250 million, but a month later he sued Mair again (along with the news organization McClatchy), this time for $150 million.

As we noted, there was no way to look at any of this other than a blatant attempt to abuse the court system to silence free speech. Which is partly why it’s so ironic now that Nunes is positioning himself as a “free speech protector” as the head of Donald Trump’s flailing social network. It took a while (and included some weird interim rulings) but the court finally dismissed Mair from the first case.

But, because the goal of SLAPP suits is not to win, but to just drag things out and make them as annoying and as expensive as possible, Nunes and his lawyer, Steven Biss, appealed the ruling, which eventually reached Virginia’s Supreme Court. However, that court has now refused to take the appeal, noting that “the Court is of the opinion there is no reversible error in the judgment complained of.”

In response to finally being free from this vexatious SLAPP suit, Mair released a statement:

“I am pleased to announce today that the Virginia Supreme Court has refused former Rep. Nunes’ petition for appeal in his $150 million lawsuit against me (one of two in which he sought a total of $400 million in damages), concluding ‘there is no reversible error in the judgment complained of.’

“I thank the Court for upholding the First Amendment and my — and all Americans’ — rights of free speech.

“I hope that this judgment will dissuade other government and political figures from attempting to use litigation as a cudgel to stifle free speech. This lawsuit did not succeed in silencing me, and nor should lawsuits like it be allowed to silence other Americans exercising their God-given rights to free speech especially where they do so in an effort to hold their government accountable.

“While I admit to being less interesting than a fake, anonymous barnyard animal on Twitter, this case should nonetheless be firmly recorded in the history books as an instance of where our democratic republic safeguarded essential civil liberties and stood strong for freedom. I hope that it will always do so, for the benefit of all Americans.”

And, yes, it did safeguard essential civil liberties, but it took almost three years to do so. Stronger anti-SLAPP laws at both the state (Virginia keeps considering a new anti-SLAPP law, but never seems to get it over the finish line) and federal levels are absolutely necessary to make sure that the Devin Nunes and Steve Bisses of the world cannot continue to drag people through such exhausting and costly experiences.

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Comments on “Devin Nunes Loses Appeal Of SLAPP Suit Against Liz Mair”

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Bobvious says:

Liz Mair will not be nagged by these dam foals

No more horsing around with these naysayers. Let’s colt a day on these filly lawsuits, otherwise they’ll be back with a change of tack, drafting another crop of manure with slight agistments.

Of course Nunes and co will be ropeable, sulky and saddle the time and seething with unbridled anger, but they won’t always be withers. A good anti-SLAPP law would be a way of stallion their thunder because they’d have to pony up the dough.

Let’s celebrate this small win with a pinto two.

Bobvious says:

Re: Re: Re: milked those kinds of puns for all they’re worth

Hay there Stephen. Ayrshire family going this week? Going well, I hope. Curd you ask for better whether? I was trying to think of something witty this week, but my homogenisation isn’t up to it. Casein point, it was hutch a challenge to find pictures of the colostrum in Rome. I searched forages and ages, but some ruins in Athens was stall I could find.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
jimb (profile) says:

anti-SLAPP should allow slapping back

Seems to me that after winning or being dismissed from a case in an ‘anti-SLAPP’ law victory, the winning person should get their legal fees paid by the person filing the original SLAPP lawsuit. That might discourage filing frivolous or baseless lawsuits in the first place. And where does Nunes get all the money to pay -his- legal fees; it’s not like he’s a “billionaire” con man, like his boss.

PaulT (profile) says:


The ex-member part is the best part so far. According to what I’ve been reading, the idea seems to have been to set up “Truth” as a way to launder some money, but the originally intended buyers fell through and now they’re stuck trying to deliver a functional product, which for some reason all these right-wing “free speech” platforms seem to have problems doing without indulging in the exact type of moderation they claim their platforms are meant to avoid.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Upstream (profile) says:

Problem with anti-SLAPP laws

The way I see it, even in states with anti-SLAPP laws, when the victims eventually wins, all they get is attorney’s fees. There is no compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, etc. For these laws to really be effective, they need to make it much more painful for people filing the SLAPP lawsuits.

MightyMetricBatman says:

Re: Problem with anti-SLAPP laws

Even with getting attorney fees, the way the courts calculate it, ‘the Lodestar’ method, routinely comes in under 10-20% the actual bill. And that is based when the attorney documents their work properly to the court’s satisfaction. A court can take out a hefty cut for bad time documentation.

PaulT (profile) says:


Nunes is a private citizen since he quit the House in order to be the scapegoat for Trump’s next social media failure, so it’s no longer a truly relevant question. There’s obviously questions about past behaviour, but for the moment his expensive embarrassments are probably less interesting than how he’s going to deal with similar activity on the platform he’s currently responsible for.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nunes is a private citizen since he quit the House in order to be the scapegoat for Trump’s next social media failure, so it’s no longer a truly relevant question.

If any of the suites are ongoing, it seems relevant to me if there’s some third party funding them, regardless of whether he is currently in Congress or not.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s relevant in a different way. It’s of interest either way, of course, but the level of overall public interest is different for a public official, since it’s very much of public relevance if there’s any conflict of interest.

In his current role, it’s going to be of relevance to know if he’s being paid by the Trump organisation he’s been hired for or some other shady entity, but there’s no direct conflict of interest if he’s just taking money as a capitalist grifter. There’s more interesting and relevant questions to be asked surrounding his current role, IMHO.

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