By Paul Gable
A post earlier this week in The Nerve told of newly elected Rep. Greg Duckworth (SC House District 104) pursuing libel lawsuits against two supporters of outgoing Rep. Tracy Edge.
Duckworth’s libel claims concern letters to the editor by Charles Collins and Bren Gibson during the 2012 election season. Edge defeated Duckworth in the 2012 Republican primary but lost to him in 2014.
The first thing that comes to mind – “Is this guy serious?”
The U.S. Supreme Court has set the standard for defamation and libel lawsuits in the public arena to what is commonly referred to as “malice aforethought.” This means that a plaintiff must not only prove the statements made against him or her were false, but also that the defendant made those statements knowing they were false or in acting with reckless disregard of the truth.
In South Carolina, political speech is totally uncontrolled. There is no requirement for a candidate to speak the truth and, of course, most don’t.
This looks like nothing more than a politician attempting to silence criticism by filing nuisance lawsuits.
Historically, the American political arena has been a wild, raucous venue when it has operated at its best. There should be no place for thin-skinned politicians who can’t take criticism.
Filing lawsuits against political critics appears to be an attempt to take away 1st Amendment rights.
Over the years, I have watched politicians develop huge egos after being elected to office, but this is ridiculous.
Have we really come to the point where politicians now think saying something critical of them gives them the right to sue?
Link to The Nerve article: http://thenerve.org/news/2014/11/24/Lawsuits-activities/