Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin got some good news from the U.S. Court of Appeals on Tuesday. In a ruling that reverses an earlier decision from the Southern District of New York, the Second Circuit court said that Palin’s lawsuit against the New York Times may proceed.
“This case is ultimately about the First Amendment,” ruled the court, “but the subject matter implicated in this appeal is far less dramatic: rules of procedure and pleading standards.”
The lawsuit arose in the aftermath of depraved Tucson shooter Jared Loughner’s murderous rampage in Tucson in 2011 – killing six people, including a federal judge, John Roll – and seriously wounding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Palin’s political committee, SarahPAC, had run ads surrounding Congress’s voting on the Affordable Care Act (aka, “Obamacare”), with “a map that superimposed the image of a crosshairs target over certain Democratic congressional districts.”
“In the wake of the Loughner shooting, some speculated that the shooting was connected to the crosshairs map,” the Second Circuit continued.
“No evidence ever emerged to establish the link,” Judge John Walker wrote for the panel. “In fact, the criminal investigation of Loughner indicated that his animosity toward Representative Giffords had arisen before SarahPAC published the map.”
Why does any of that ancient history matter? Well, because after Steve Scalise was severely wounded by a deranged leftist at a congressional baseball practice in 2017, The New York Times decided to provide cover for the leftist violence. They did this, in part, by dredging up the Loughner cause and smearing Palin’s name through the mud once again. In 2011, they said, the “link to political incitement was clear.”
It wasn’t. There’s not one shred of evidence to suggest that Loughner ever even saw Palin’s map, much less drew any influence from it.
But as the Court of Appeals said, their ruling was based less on the defamatory merits of Palin’s case and more on the Southern District’s failure to abide by legal rules governing a motion to dismiss. The Clinton-appointed judge in the original case allowed the Times to present evidence against Palin’s case, which was a violation of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. If the judge had wished to make a summary judgement against Palin at that time, he could have done so…but that would have meant allowing Palin to present all of the evidence in her case.
The Court of Appeals correctly decided that the Southern District had failed to follow these procedures, and thus, Palin will have her day in court after all.