A compelling lesson in libel law
By Carolyn Schurr Levin
Sarah Palin’s libel lawsuit against The New York Times is not a new case. It was initially filed on June 26, 2017. But, as the case continues to wind its way through the courts, it offers a compelling lesson in libel law.
Here’s what it’s all about: In 2010, former Alaska Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s political action committee, SarahPAC, published an online map with crosshairs over congressional districts of some Democrats, including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. In January 2011, a gunman opened fire at a political event in Tucson, Arizona, killing six and wounding 13, including Giffords. The gunman who shot Giffords pled guilty; there was no evidence that he had seen the SarahPAC map. Several years later, another U.S. Representative was injured when a gunman fired at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia. The night of that attack, which injured U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, the New York Times published an editorial on its website titled “America’s Lethal Politics,” tying the two shootings to the SarahPAC map. The June 14, 2017 New York Times editorial asked:
“Was this attack evidence of how vicious American politics has become? Probably. In 2011, when Jared Lee Loughner opened fire in a supermarket parking lot, grievously wounding Representative Gabby Giffords and killing six people, including a 9-year-old girl, the link to political incitement was clear. Before the shooting, Sarah
Palin’s political action committee circulated a map of targeted electoral districts that put Ms. Giffords and 19 other Democrats under stylized cross hairs. Continue reading “Legal analysis: Sarah Palin v. The New York Times Company”