Defendants in Dominion Defamation Lawsuits Invoke Free Speech Rights

Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Lindell are all facing billion dollar lawsuits brought by Dominion Voting Systems accusing them of falsely claiming the company rigged the 2020 election to elect Joe Biden.

Now the defendants are seeking to dismiss the lawsuits by arguing that the First Amendment protects them from being sued because Dominion – a private company that manufactures voting machines – is a public figure that took on a governmental role.

In a federal district court hearing in Washington, D.C.. on Thursday, attorneys for Powell and Lindell argued that Dominion acted in a government capacity, citing previous court cases barring public officials from suing people who criticize them.

Because of this, Dominion has to prove that the defendants acted with malice when they accused the company of manipulating votes.

“If you are criticizing the government … that is not actionable,” Doug Daniels, Lindell’s attorney, said, adding that Dominion is considered a government figure “because they’re administering the election.”

Dominion attorneys called it a nonsensical argument.

“They’re trying to tag us falsely with the label of a government actor,” Clare said. “Dominion doesn’t administer elections. Election officials do using the tools made by Dominion … That is a critical distinction.”

Giuliani, whose New York license was revoked, did not invoke free speech issues. Instead, his attorneys argued that Dominion has failed to show it has lost profits or customers because of Giuliani’s statements. 

District Court Judge Carl Nichols appeared skeptical.

“Is it your view that if someone makes patently false statements in a lawsuit and then repeats them to the press that the statements to the press are not actionable?” Nichols, a Trump appointee, asked Powell’s attorney.

If Dominion succeeds at this stage, it will still have to make its case at trial. Dominion claims that Powell ruined its reputation with conspiracy theories that it was a plot involving Hugo Chavez, the CIA, and Chinese communists. The claims against Giuliani are that he made more than 50 statements attacking the reliability of Dominion machines. Dominion claims Mike Lindell simply lied to people to sell more pillows, telling them what they want to hear.

USA Today and The Hill