First Amendment News


Congratulations to Project Veritas on its victory in court yesterday. They were being sued for defamation in a federal court in North Carolina, and Judge Martin K. Reidinger granted them a directed verdict when the plaintiff failed to produce enough evidence for the case to go to the jury. The judge said this in his ruling (beginning at the bottom of page 14 of the transcript below):

The law requires, and the Supreme Court has made clear under the Liberty Lobby case, that I not only have to look at this from the standpoint of whether or not there is the thinnest of thin reeds, that scintilla of evidence, but rather whether a jury could find by clear and convincing evidence that there was actual malice. And these very thin reeds, which I believe as to several of these are really no evidence of malice at all, are insufficient to meet that standard. Therefore, for that reason, the defendant’s motion — defendant’s motions pursuant to Rule 50 will be granted.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50 deals with ruling on matters of law during a jury trial. Judge Reidinger continued:

Whenever I have something that is of particular difficulty, such as this case, it is my ordinary, knee-jerk reaction to tell the party that I’ve ruled against that I urge you to have the court of appeals go grade my paper. To that end, I will say that I will follow this up with a written order before I enter a judgment in this matter that will further elucidate what I’m talking about.

And I do have an inclination to say exactly that. I think that if I got this wrong I’d certainly like for somebody to tell me that I got it wrong. I have a little bit of hesitation in saying that this time. Because if I’ve gotten this wrong, and the Fourth Circuit says that this is not what the law is, I hesitate to think where the First Amendment is going in this country.

It’s always good First Amendment news when a frivolous defamation LOLsuit fails, and I have to admit that seeing one fail because the plaintiff couldn’t come up with a “scintilla” of evidence at trial has a certain resonance for me.

Today’s Talking Point


The Alabama Legislature has passed a bill that would put significant restrictions on abortion if it becomes law. The bill contains, get ready for today’s talking point, “no exceptions for rape or incest.” That phrase appears in the headlines in stories about the bill from the Washington Post and CBS News; the lack of such exceptions figures in stories from the AP, Reuters, and other sources. The real problem that Progressives have with the bill is that it outlaws abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. It seems that they’re trying to use the lack of exceptions for the rare instance of rape and incest as a way painting the bill’s supports as out-of-the-mainstream extremists. We’re also beginning to see stories about Rowe v. Wade being in danger of reversal by the Supreme Court.  I expect to hear the tip jars rattling at various presidential campaigns quite soon.

I’m not in favor of rape or incest but I believe it’s a good thing that we no longer treat rape as a capital crime and hang the perpetrators. I also believe that we shouldn’t kill either of the victims of a rape, so I’ve never understood why it makes sense to allow killing a child because he or she was conceived during a rape. I feel the same way about killing a child conceived incestuously.

We’ve Got a Little List


Roger Kimball has a piece over at American Greatness about the criminal referrals being made by Congressman Nunes to the Department of Justice. There are eight referrals which may involve upwards of twenty persons. Five are for specific crimes such as lying to Congress or leaking classified information. Three are more open-ended: Conspiracy to lie to the FISA court, manipulation of intelligence for partisan political ends, and what Nunes calls “global leaks” of highly sensitive information (such as the contents of telephone calls between President Trump and foreign leaders). Who had access to such information?
Who used it illegally?

But who do you think makes the list? Were I a modern-day Koko, my little list would include former CIA Director John Brennan, an implacable enemy of the president and a good candidate for the title of fons et origo of the Trump-Russia investigation.

It would include the FBI’s Peter Strzok, Andrew McCabe, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former acting attorney general Sally Yates, Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie who (unbelievably) actually worked for Fusion GPS.

That other James, the oleaginous James Comey, former Director of the FBI, would certainly be on the list, as would several people in the Obama Administration: the aforementioned Susan Rice, for example, and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, who, like Rice, did a lot of unmasking in her final months in office.

There are others—quite a few others, in fact, as anyone who has been keeping up with the reporting on this unfolding scandal knows well.

Read the whole thing.

Sticking with allusions to The Mikado, let’s hope that Attorney General Barr channels the title character.

My object all sublime
I shall achieve in time—
To let the punishment fit the crime,
The punishment fit the crime …

Stay tuned.