Former Rep. McKinney Sues Newspaper For Libel

From the Washington Times’ BLT blog comes the news that former Georgia representative has sued The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and its owner, Cox Newspapers for libel. The suit is apparently premised upon a series of opinion pieces that were printed on the paper’s op-ed page. One little problem with Ms. McKinney’s suit – expressions of pure opinion, such as those that appear on newspaper op-ed pages, cannot, as a matter of law, be libelous. Expressions of pure opinion are protected speech under the First Amendment. To the extent that Ms. McKinney’s claims are based upon statements in any articles that were not expressions of opinion but were rather purportedly statements of fact, she will still have a tough hill to climb. As a former member of the House of Representatives Ms. McKinney probably falls within the definition of a “public figure” and, as such, must prove that any such articles were printed with “actual malice.”

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