The Supreme Court declined to reconsider a 1964 ruling that created a high bar for public figures to claim libel.
Clarence Thomas disagreed with the majority’s refusal to revisit New York Times v. Sullivan.
“SPLC’s ‘hate group’ designation lumped Coral Ridge’s Christian ministry with groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis. It placed Coral Ridge on an interactive, online ‘Hate Map’ and caused Coral Ridge concrete financial injury by excluding it from the AmazonSmile donation program. Nonetheless, unable to satisfy the ‘almost impossible’ actual-malice standard this Court has imposed, Coral Ridge could not hold SPLC to account for what it maintains is a blatant falsehood.”
The case at hand was brought by a not-for-profit Christian ministry — Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc. — that broadcasts a television program of previously recorded messages of the group’s late founder, Dr. D. James Kennedy.
The group sought to sue the Southern Poverty Law Center for defamation for calling Coral Ridge a “hate group” — a designation that appears on its website and is used in some of its fundraising materials, publications, and training programs. In court papers, the center said that Coral Ridge calls homosexual conduct “lawless,” an “abomination” and “shameful.”
In its iconic 2010 report, “18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda,” the Southern Poverty Law Center explained that the “late Rev. D. James Kennedy started turning fundamentalist Coral Ridge Presbyterian into a mega-church in the 1960s.”
In an especially nasty 1989 edition of a CRM newsletter, Kennedy ran photographs of children along with the tagline, “Sex With Children? Homosexuals Say Yes!”
“Over the years,” the SPLC report adds, Rev. Kennedy “emphasized anti-gay rhetoric, particularly in his TV ministry. He recommended as ‘essential’ the virulent work of R.J. Rushdoony … who believed practicing gays should be executed.”