A federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday reinstated Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the New York Times, overturning a district court’s ruling which dismissed her claim in 2017. The three-judge panel ruled that the lower court was wrong to use an “unusual process” in determining the validity of Palin’s claim, vacating the decision and sending the case back to the District Court for discovery.
“This case is ultimately about the First Amendment, but the subject matter implicated in this appeal is far less dramatic: rules of procedure and pleading standards,” Circuit Judge John M. Walker wrote.
In 2017, United States District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff held an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Palin’s complaint against the Times properly alleged all the required elements of a defamation claim. Rakoff then relied on the evidence adduced at that hearing to dismiss Palin’s complaint under the Federal Rules of Procedure 12(b)(6), meaning Palin failed to state a claim upon which relief can legally be granted.
“Nowhere is political journalism so free, so robust, or perhaps so rowdy as in the United States,” Rakoff wrote in the ruling. “In the exercise of that freedom, mistakes will be made, some of which will be hurtful to others.”