Developer vs. critic of eminent domain, cont’d

As readers will recall, Texas developer H. Walker Royall sued journalist Carla Main and her publisher, Encounter Books, over Bulldozed, a critique of eminent domain which includes commentary critical of Royall’s dealings. (Note: Encounter Books is also the publisher of my forthcoming book, Schools for Misrule.) The case is now before a Dallas judge, and getting more publicity. (Dallas Observer, including brief and response by the parties, and more; David Rittgers at Cato). The WSJ’s William McGurn interviewed Royall and quotes him as saying that he objects (inter alia) to being portrayed as someone who “wants to silence anyone who wants to talk about [the controversy].” Why might anyone have gotten that impression of him? Well, one reason might be that, in addition to filing a suit demanding that Carla Main’s book be pulled off the market, and another suit against a local paper and its book reviewer over a review of the book — that one was settled — Royall also sued famed law professor Richard Epstein, who’d given a blurb to the book. (A judge dismissed Epstein from the case.)

From the Dallas Observer’s reporting:

John Kramer, with the Institute for Justice, says defamation suits against people speaking out against eminent domain are increasingly common. “We’ve actually seen an unfortunate trend across the country, in Tennessee, Missouri, and Washington State,” he says, over speech, a newspaper ad and a “multi-story permanent sign that said, ‘End eminent domain abuse.'”

More from IJ here. And Morgan Smith at Texas Tribune discusses efforts in the Texas legislature to secure more protection for free speech against aggressive lawsuits.

One Comment

  • If one cannot criticize, in a reasonable and logical manner, a developer who tries to use eminent domain to advance his own financial interests at the expense of other property owners, then the First Amendment has been rendered a nullity. I pray that the use of lawsuits to stifle dissent, a big problem in the UK, does not become widespread in the US