Defamation cases often arise out of intemperate or offensive statements made in political campaigns. These comments may refer to a candidate’s criminal history, familial conduct, or other matters. Whatever the subject, emotions undoubtedly run high during hotly contested campaigns. However, First Amendment protection is at its zenith when speakers engage in political speech, and speech about political candidates is inherently political speech. Thus, defamation suits arising out of political campaigns face significant hurdles, including (1) anti-SLAPP statutes and a greater public awareness of SLAPP suits; (2) a history and tradition of mudslinging and enhanced protection of political speech during political campaigns; and (3) the first-amendment-inspired doctrine of rhetorical hyperbole. This Article addresses these three obstacles.
Hudson, David L, Anti-Slapp Coverage and the First Amendment: Hurdles to Defamation Suits in Political Campaigns (2020). American University Law Review, volume 69, no 5, 2020; Belmont University College of Law Research Paper No 2020-15 (2020).