Court Re-Opens Libel Lawsuit Against WaPo

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  October 29, 2019   

Suit can continue for Covington Catholic student smeared by media

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COVINGTON, Ky. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A federal judge is giving the go-ahead to a Catholic high schooler's lawsuit against the Washington Post.

The family of Nick Sandmann, a student at Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky, filed suit against Washington Post in February this year — just one month after the Washington Post allegedly mischaracterized an encounter between Sandmann and a Native American activist following the March for Life.

The lawsuit was dismissed in July. But now, an amended version of the suit is getting the green light.

In Monday's ruling at a federal courthouse in Covington, Judge William Bertelsman determined that he would allow a portion of Sandmann's legal action against the newspaper to go forward. Bertelsman ruled that 30 of the lawyers' 33 libel claims do not actually amount to libel, but the remaining three claims ought to be reviewed by the court as a matter of justice.

The federal judge stated in his ruling, "Suffice to say that the Court has given this matter careful review and concludes that 'justice requires' that discovery be had regarding these statements and their context."

 

Todd McMurtry, an attorney for Sandmann, called the judge's order a victory, telling the Washington Times, "The court's ruling preserves the heart of Nicholas Sandmann's claims. We can consider this a huge victory and look forward to initiating discovery against the Washington Post."

The high schooler's legal counsel has argued that the Washington Post committed libel by falsely portraying the then-16-year-old as racist and aggressive in an encounter with Native American activist Nathan Phillips.

The Court's ruling preserves the heart of Nicholas Sandmann's claims.

Sandmann and other Covington Catholic High School students went to Washington D.C. for the 2019 March for Life. As they waited on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for the bus back home, a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites hurled insults and racial slurs at the high schoolers.

Then, Phillips and a few other Native American activists ran up to the crowd of pro-life students. Phillips beat a drum inches from Sandmann's face while chanting a tribal religious song.

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One of the Native American activists alongside Phillips shouted at a teenage boy to go back to Europe, saying, "Get the f*** out of my face with that s***." The high school boy argued back for a bit, citing the theory that Homo sapiens originated in Africa, but Sandmann gestured to him to stop talking.

After the Jan. 18 encounter outside the Lincoln Memorial, deceptively edited video clips were shared online that appeared to show the pro-life high schoolers surrounding and mocking Phillips.

The mainstream media ran wild with the narrative that white teenagers were mocking an elderly Native American man.

Catholic bishops and pro-life leaders were quick to throw the pro-life teens under the bus.

Leftists targeted the boys with doxxing and threats of violence.

Sandmann's attorneys sought to sue Washington Post for $250 million. Their initial suit in February stated:

The Post wrongfully targeted and bullied Nicholas because he was the white, Catholic student wearing a red 'Make America Great Again' souvenir cap on a school field trip to the January 18 March for Life in Washington, D.C. when he was unexpectedly and suddenly confronted by Nathan Phillips ('Phillips'), a known Native American activist.

It also argued, "The Post bullied an innocent child with an absolute disregard for the pain and destruction its attacks would cause to his life," adding, "The Post proved itself to be a loud and aggressive bully with a bully pulpit."

At the start of May, Sandmann's lawyers announced a $275 million lawsuit against NBCUniversal, due to the media company's coverage of the encounter between Sandmann and Phillips.

The complaint against NBC argued, "NBCUniversal unleashed its vast corporate wealth, influence, and power against Nicholas to falsely attack him despite the fact that at the time, he was a 16-year-old high school student."

 

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