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Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against The New York Times is valid and may continue, court rules

An NYT editorial linked Palin to a mass shooting

JASON CONNOLLY/AFP/Getty Images

Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against The New York Times will be allowed to continue after a federal appeals court ruled that the lawsuit was wrongly dismissed by a lower court, according to NPR.

Palin sued the Times in 2017 after the paper published an editorial that drew a connection between materials distributed by Palin's political action committee and a mass shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona, in which six people were killed and Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was injured.

There were two primary reasons the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to the lower court. First of all, the court ruled that the lower court used an "unusual" procedure to evaluate Palin's legal team's arguments, using the facts obtained in a special hearing to dismiss the case.

More crucially to the future of this lawsuit, the appeals court ruled that Palin's case "plausibly states a claim for defamation and may proceed to full discovery."

An excerpt from the editorial reads:

"Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl. At the time, we and others were sharply critical of the heated political rhetoric on the right. Before the shooting, Sarah Palin's political action committee circulated a map that showed the targeted electoral districts of Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs."

The editorial was corrected to add the sentence "But in that case no connection to the shooting was ever established."

When the lawsuit was originally thrown out by the lower court, the judge wrote that Palin's lawyers' evidence "consists either of gross supposition or of evidence so weak that, even together, these items cannot support the high degree of particularized proof."

While the appellate court ruled that Palin's team has a high burden of proof in this situation, the claim of defamation itself is worthy of being thoroughly evaluated.

One last thing…
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