Domina Law Group pc llo filed Rex Moats’ Petition for Writ of Certiorari before the United States Supreme Court. The Petition asks the Supreme Court to review an April 2011 decision of the Nebraska Supreme Court refusing to permit Mr. Moats’ defamation case to proceed against a political party issuing accusatory statements—including assertions Mr. Moats signed a false affidavit in court proceedings—during his campaign for the non-partisan Nebraska Legislature.
The Nebraska Supreme Court’s divided opinion ruled that Moats’ carefully-pled Complaint could not proceed to trial because the publications against Moats were perceived as maliciously misleading but not maliciously false. Moats contends that political spin enjoys no protection under the First Amendment when it intentionally misleads voters to deduce wrong conclusions and think a candidate committed a reprehensible act, such as the crime of perjury, as is suggested in the false publications against Moats.
Writing for Moats, David Domina told the Supreme Court:
Statements challenged by Moats include assertions that the candidate, a lawyer, swore a false affidavit in court, causing a failed insurance company to default on coverage. The truth is the candidate blew the whistle on the company and protected its policyholders by forcing the company into receivership. No prior case is known to have presented free speech issues where the challenged statements were made as part of a political campaign for political office. Prior cases have dealt with public officials, but not where they are objects of campaign abuse.
Petitioner asks this court to decide whether the First Amendment protects political speech contained in attack advertising in a public campaign for a non-partisan office that is malicious and misleading with false implications and an intention to induce the reader to conclude the target of the speech lied in court. Must the speech be malicious and false on its face to fall outside First Amendment bounds, or does it fall outside First Amendment protection if the speech is malicious and misleading so as to induce, by design, false conclusions by the reader or viewer?
The entire Petition for Writ of Certiorari may be read here.