Libel, slander, and defamation roundup

  • Texas trims back its SLAPP law after complaints it was being used in circumstances far from original design [John G. Browning, D Magazine] Howard Wasserman on John Oliver on SLAPP suits [Prawfsblawg]
  • In the U.S., sovereign governments can’t sue for libel. Does that include Indian tribes? [TMZ, Eugene Volokh]
  • “Your Periodic Reminder that Blogging About Litigation Can Generate More Litigation” [Eric Goldman]
  • Virginia emerges as libel tourism destination in high-profile cases [Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post; Paul Alan Levy, Public Citizen on Devin Nunes action, earlier]
  • “Virginia Legislator Joe Morrissey Gets Called “Fool,” Sues, Arguing He’s Not a Fool” [Eugene Volokh] “Retired Law Professor Sues Lawyer-Commenters on Law Blog” [same]
  • “Kansas senate leader ordered to pay nearly $39,000 in legal fees to The Kansas City Star after a judge dismissed his defamation lawsuit” [Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star]


  • I don’t see how an Indian tribe can be libeled.

    • Because defamation of a group is not actionable? That’s not clear, is it? If I’m not mistaken the governing case is Beauharnais v. Illinois (1952), which allowed prosecution for a group libel. The Supreme Court has tended since to give more weight to freedom of speech but has not actually over-ruled Beauharnais.

      • The rule in American law that a sovereign cannot be defamed is distinct from any question of whether a group can be defamed, and that’s the key question in this case, since federally recognized Indian tribes do hold themselves out as sovereigns.

        I also think Beauharnais is no longer good law, but there’s little reason to think this case will reach that issue.