Laura Loomer is suing Facebook for defamation. Facebook’s legal team is citing the First Amendment as a defense for banning Laura Loomer and labeling her a “dangerous” person. The defense cites e-ventures Worldwide LLC v. Google. Inc, a case from 2017 where the court the court held that the First Amendment “protects these decisions, whether they are fair or unfair, or motivated by profit or altruism.” Facebook is attempting to get the case dismissed based on this notion.
Here is where it really gets interesting.
Under the First Amendment, “there can be no false ideas.” Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 339-40 (1974). Accordingly, “statements that are not readily capable of being proven false and statements of pure opinion are protected from defamation actions.” Turner, 879
F.3d at 1262-63; see also Keller v. Miami Herald Publ’g Co., 778 F.2d 711, 717 (11th Cir. 1985)
(“Opinions are protected from defamation actions by the first amendment.”);
This is because “[h]owever pernicious an opinion may seem, we depend for its correction not on the conscience of judges and juries but on the competition of other ideas.” Gertz,
418 U.S. at 339-40. “Whether the statement is one of fact or opinion [is a] question of law for the court.” Turner, 879 F.3d at 1262-63; see also Rodriguez v. Panayiotou, 314 F.3d 979, 985-86
(9th Cir. 2002) (“[W]hether an allegedly defamatory statement constitutes fact or opinion is a question of law for the court to decide.”).
Applying this principle, courts have long held that assertions of bigotry, racism, prejudice, and political extremism are in the eye of the beholder, and therefore constitute subjective opinion that cannot be the basis for a defamation claim. See, e.g., Buckley v. Littell, 539 F.2d 882, 893-95
Facebook’s defense is making the same claims that Gab has been making for three years now: bigotry, racism, prejudice, political extremism, and “hate speech” are in the eye of the beholder and therefore subjective opinion. Subjective opinions are protected speech.
The question here is: why is Facebook so quick to cite and respect the First Amendment when it works to their advantage in a defamation lawsuit, but not cite and leverage the First Amendment for the protection of speech for their of billions of users? Secondly, is Facebook a publisher or a platform?
You can read the full Motion To Dismiss below and come to your own conclusions.
You can also follow Laura Loomer on Gab.