Friday, July 06, 2018

Wyoming Supreme Court upholds right to criticize in politics

The Wyoming Supreme Court on Monday upheld a lower court's decision to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by former state schools superintendent Cindy Hill over comments a U.S. House candidate made about her during a campaign in 2016.

Hill had contended in her lawsuit that Tim Stubson made malicious and false statements about her. Stubson lost in the Republican primary that year to Liz Cheney, who eventually won the seat in the general election.

The unanimous Supreme Court decision, written by Justice Michael Davis, said Hill did not present sufficient arguments to back up her case.

Stubson, of Casper, welcomed the decision for upholding First Amendment rights to free speech.

"I think it's important, not just obviously for me, but it's important for the state that there's a clear decision out there that you can criticize public officials for the way they do their jobs and not be punished for it through the courts," Stubson said in a telephone interview.



Anonymous said...

you can criticize public officials for the way they do their jobs and not be punished for it through the courts

That is what free speech is all about !

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:05,

You are correct.

But the headline of this post is misleading at best, a lie at worst.

The Wyoming Supreme Court did not "uphold right to criticize in politics."

The Court used a four part test to see if Hill's claim had merit.

First test was whether the statements were true. They were not.

Second test was whether Hill was a public official for the purposes of protected speech. She was.

Third test was whether the statements were made with actual malice. The Court ruled they were.

Fourth test was whether there was actual defamation resulting from the comments that were made. ie Did Hill suffer in her job, reputation, future jobs, and if so, to what extent? (what amount of dollars.) The Court ruled that there was no defamation.

Hill's claim failed as the defamation part was not met.

This was more than just a "criticize public officials" thing. This was about lying and saying a person was doing illegal things.

The Court got this case right.

The headline of the post got it wrong.