Report: Even unsuccessful libel suits can chill political speech

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Tennessean examines two libel lawsuits filed by Tennessee politicians and their potential effect on free speech. The newspaper reports that experts say defamation lawsuits filed by political candidates against their rivals — or even constituents — can chill speech, even if the cases are ultimately unsuccessful.

The First Amendment Center’s Gene Policinski is quoted: “I think basically courts have very often left general political charges, claims or accusations to the ballot box. … Courts have been very reluctant to intrude on the electoral process.”