Colloton acknowledged that other courts have ruled that simply posting a new link to an old story does not necessarily constitute a repost, but said those rulings did not exclude the possibility that it may sometimes be act as a repost.
Nunes’ lawsuit against Lizza and Esquire publisher Hearst Magazine Media was one of many libel cases he filed in 2019 against reporters, media outlets and others, arguing he was trashed because of his support for President Donald Trump in ongoing investigations. Trump’s ties to Russia. Many cases have been abandoned or closed.
Lizza, who joined POLITICO as chief Washington correspondent in August 2019, declined to comment. Hearst’s attorneys who represented Lizza in the trial did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. Nunes attorney Steven Biss of Charlottesville, Va., Did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.
A First Amendment expert expressed concern about the ruling and said the case deserves to be considered by the entire 8th Circuit judiciary.
“This is certainly a new application of some important defamation doctrines, and potentially troublesome if the 8 Circuit’s decision stands, “said Chip Stewart, a professor at Texas Christian University.” It’s kind of a weird priming argument. Nunes claims the underlying article is bogus. He files a complaint. Lizza tweets the exact same story after filing the complaint. And what was not the source of the actual malevolence is now suddenly, at least plausible enough that a lawsuit moves on to other costly litigation. All over in a tweet that didn’t change the original story. “
A curious aspect of the ruling is that it appears to open the door to lawsuits against anyone who tweeted or retweeted the original story with knowledge of Nunes’ trial, and similar claims against members of the public or those with dementia. ‘important social media subscribers tweeting or retweeting stories after learning that the subject of the story in some way challenges it.
If the decision is upheld, the prosecution will be referred to a district court judge for further proceedings. The appeals court decision did not find Lizza or Hearst responsible for the retweet, but left those issues up to the district judge for reconsideration.
Stewart said the appeals court ruling is also concerning as it allows sitting member of Congress Nunes to continue his legal campaign against his critics.
“He’s not trying to make money from these lawsuits. He just wants the pain of litigation to deter other critics from writing about him. I admit I’m hesitant to even say this. that I’m saying here because I don’t. want to start a lawsuit against him, “the professor said.” It’s a bullying tactic that can make a person’s life miserable for a while, and he relies on this to curb honest criticism of his elected office. “
Another libel suit filed by members of Nunes’ family is currently pending in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Colloton and Smith are appointed by former President George W. Bush. Erickson was appointed by former President Donald Trump.