Defamation case against late blogger to continue
WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court says former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod can continue her defamation case against a conservative blogger.
Larry O'Connor, a colleague of the late blogger Andrew Breitbart, asked a federal court of appeals to throw out the case, saying it violates his freedom of speech rights. The appeals court on Tuesday upheld a federal district court's rejection of that motion to dismiss.
The case is one of the first high-profile federal lawsuits to test bloggers' freedom of speech rights, and large news organizations, including The New York Times, Washington Post and Dow Jones, have filed friend-of-the-court briefs.
Sherrod was ousted from her job as a rural development official in 2010 after Breitbart posted an edited video of Sherrod, who is black, supposedly making racist remarks. She sued Breitbart, O'Connor and an unnamed defendant for defamation and emotional distress after USDA officials asked her to resign, and the video ignited a racial firestorm.
Breitbart died unexpectedly last year. Sherrod's lawyers say the unnamed defendant is the person whom they believe passed the video on to Breitbart, though the person's identity remains unknown.
The video on Breitbart's website turned out to be edited, and when Sherrod's full speech to an NAACP group earlier that year came to light, it became clear that her remarks about an initial reluctance to help a white farmer decades ago were not racist but an attempt at telling a story of racial reconciliation. Once that was obvious, Sherrod received public apologies from the administration — even from President Obama — and an offer to return to the Agriculture Department, which she declined.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New heart drug seen as significant breakthrough
- Texas appeals judge’s ruling on restrictive abortion law
- Border Patrol agent opens fire on armed militia member in Texas
- Pilot in Atlantic Ocean crash lost consciousness, Coast Guard says
- Revival of beer gardens in Milwaukee prompts other cities to consider it to shore up budgets
- Next hurdle for health care likely tax season
- Manatee status as ‘endangered’ draws complaints; classification under review
- Ambassador: Britain close to identifying Foley’s killer
- Heart association fears e-cigarettes will produce new generation of smokers
- Father of Ferguson shooting victim asks for peace on day of funeral
- Earthquake jolts Napa area in northern California