Victory for Bloggers: Illinois Blog Wins Lawsuit
In a good sign for blogger free speech, a lawsuit against a high profile conservative blog in Illinois has just been tossed out. A political contributor brought the lawsuit over a story about property tax reassessments and political contributions. This is a victory for free political speech as well as a victory for the status of blogs in the world of “journalism.”
I’ve been aware of this story for some time but the folks at Illinois Review, the blog in question, asked me to sort of keep it all quiet. There were all sorts of legal questions being thrown about and since the folks that run the blog don’t have deep pockets and the whole thing was being born at their own expense, they wanted to be sure this whole mess didn’t escalate and hurt them too bad financially.
The lawsuit meant to silence the blog was a convoluted one, to be sure. Illinois Review had posted a story that revealed that former Ill. State Rep. Paul Froehlich (R, Schaumburg) had sought campaign contributions from property owners who had won property tax relief claims that the Representative had assisted in getting settled. But after the story went live, due to the notoriety the county assessors office reversed those tax relief decisions.
One of the property owners mentioned in the original story was Satkar Hospitality. Illinois Review reported the facts of the case, noted that Satkar got a favorable property tax reassessment, and speculated that Satkar made “in-kind contributions” to Rep. Froehlich.
For his part Rep. Froehlich claimed that there was no quid pro quo and said he’d known the folks at Satkar “before they even opened their hotel and long before they contributed to my campaign.”
Satkar sued the Illinois Review for defamation — naming Fox News and others as coconspirators.
Fortunately, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew F. Kennelly dismissed the suit because Satkar “failed to show” that its claims against the blog were legitimate. Judge Kennelly also ruled that the bloggers have the right to seek reasonable attorney’s fees and costs from Satkar.
My friend John Ruberry noted that the plaintiffs’ complaint contained a particularly low blow to the blog, too. Satkar’s lawyer, R. Tamara de Silva, said that Illinois Review had “attracted a large goosestepping audience.”
Nice, huh? This sort of obscene language does not belong in our courts.
In his decision, Judge Kennelly also affirmed that the blog was expressing its right to the “furtherance of their right of free speech.” This means we have yet one more precedent that we bloggers can be protected in our rights to freely publish our political opinions without fear of being sued over our blog posts (legitimate slander laws aside).
We’ve won another one, folks. Let us hope that these precedents continue to pile up protecting us all in our efforts online.
The Chicago-based Thomas More Society represented the blog. Thomas More specializes in defending religious liberty, traditional marriage, and takes on right-to-life issues. (www.thomasmoresociety.org)
Warner Todd Huston
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago-based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com, BigJournalsim.com and all Breitbart News' other sites, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, and many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs across the country to discuss his opinion editorials and current events as well as appearing on TV networks such as CNN, Fox News, Fox Business Network, and various Chicago-based news programs. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the book "Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture" which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston and follow him on Twitter, on Google Plus , and Facebook.