Shirley Sherrod’s suit against Andrew Breitbart likely to continue

Mar 11, 12

“A defamation lawsuit a former Agriculture Department employee filed against conservative journalist Andrew Breitbart is likely to continue despite Breitbart’s unexpected death on Wednesday night at age 43.

USDA rural development staffer Shirley Sherrod filed the lawsuit against Breitbart and Breitbart aide Larry O’Connor last February over the pair’s role in publicizing a video of a Sherrod speech which appeared to suggest the African-American Agriculture Department official was biased against white people. The publicity led to Sherrod’s forced resignation, apparently with the White House’s approval.

While the clips and analysis posted at Breitbart’s seemed to indicate that Sherrod was racist, the full video of of Sherrod’s speech included her indicating she had learned a lesson from her earlier predispositions and had come to reject racial stereotyping.

Breitbart and O’Connor asked that the lawsuit be dismissed under an anti-SLAPP law the District of Columbia passed in 2010. Anti-SLAPP laws (the acronym stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) provide for quick dismissal of lawsuits arising from matters of public debate or controversy. However, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon refused to dismiss the case. He noted (in a statement posted here) that the anti-SLAPP law didn’t take effect until March 2011, the month after Sherrod’s suit was filed.”

Read the full post from Josh Gerstein at Politico here:

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