Bloggers entitled to same free speech protections as traditional journalists

Feb 07, 14

On Friday Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Andrew Hurwitz issued an opinion in Obsidian Finance Group, LLC. v. Cox.  His opening line was as follows:

“This case requires us to address a question of first impression: What First Amendment protections are afforded a blogger sued for defamation?”

This important new decision involved a blog post by blogger Crystal Cox, in which she accused a financial firm and its bankruptcy trustee of tax fraud.  At the trial court level, the judge rejected Cox’s First Amendment arguments concerning the liability standards that should govern the case, reasoning that she had “failed to submit evidence suggestive of her status as a journalist.”

However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, holding that:

“The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist, formally affiliated with traditional news entities…As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, A First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and others speakers is unworkable.”

Read more from the California Anti-SLAPP Project here:

and more from the Huffington Post here:

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