Charles Harder vs. Vice

Charles Harder
Attorney Charles Harder.
Eriq Gardner
June 27, 2022

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has been on a precedent-smashing joyride these past few days—ending the right to abortion, curtailing Miranda rights, striking down restrictions on guns. Insiders expect a major ruling to limit the powers of the E.P.A., too. Meanwhile, Clarence Thomas has outlined the landmark decisions he’d like to see reversed next: the legal right to contraception, and gay marriage, even private sexual decisions between consenting adults. Now let’s add constitutional protections ensuring free speech to the list, too.

On Monday morning, the Supreme Court rejected a petition from Coral Ridge Ministries Media, a Christian broadcaster that sued the Southern Poverty Law Center after being labeled a “hate group.” Coral Ridge wanted the high court to tackle the question of whether, in defamation cases, “private public figures”—a lovely new oxymoron referring to famous people not working for the government—should have to prove “actual malice,” that is, knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard of the truth. Weakening the malice standard, of course, would also have lowered the legal barrier that currently protects media companies from being sued into oblivion.