Time for a quick update on the corporate lawsuit to silence Public Citizen.
You’ll want to read this — it involves Citizens United and corporate “feelings” that we supposedly hurt.
To recap what’s happened so far:
Last summer, a powerful corporation called Murray Energy — the largest private coal company in the country — sued us after we ran radio ads pointing out the FACT that it opposed new regulations designed to improve worker safety and protect clean air.
We tried to have the suit dismissed or at least heard in a neutrally located federal court. But earlier this year, a judge ordered us to proceed with the case in a state court that is literally in the SAME SMALL TOWN where Murray Energy is headquartered.
In June, Murray Energy even DEMANDED that we cover legal expenses the company incurred to keep the case in its backyard.
As if that’s all not bizarre enough, get this:
When Murray Energy initially filed its lawsuit against us, the company contended that U.S. Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United mean it has privacy rights meant for living, breathing human beings — and that our ads violated those alleged rights.
In one of the few positive developments so far in the case, that claim was thrown out.
But Murray Energy is now appealing on that outlandish point.
Here are actual quotes from earlier court documents Murray Energy filed in this lawsuit:
In Citizens United, “the U.S. Supreme Court showed a willingness to determine that corporations possess the same rights as individuals.”
“A decade ago, no one would have foreseen that corporations would enjoy many of the same rights as individuals.”
“Yet, in recent years, the courts have shown an increasing willingness to extend rights commonly held only by individuals to corporations.”
“Murray Energy should have the opportunity to assert that [Public Citizen] invaded its privacy ....”
Murray Energy — a corporation — suffered “mental anguish and emotional distress” as a result of our ads.
In other words, Murray Energy — citing Supreme Court travesties such as Citizens United — has claimed that we invaded its privacy and hurt its feelings.
And even though that absurd claim was dismissed by the court, the company won’t let it go.
Murray Energy’s appeal brief is due later this month. I’ll let you know how the company contorts Citizens United to bolster its attack on Public Citizen.
News about the Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) by Murray Energy against Public Citizen:
John Gear is a Salem attorney in solo practice