Readers of Make No Law are used to hearing stories about how the courts can be used to protect First Amendment rights. Less well known is that courts can be abused to attack First Amendment rights. That’s what happened in 2008 when a
Main had written a book, Bulldozed: “Kelo,” Eminent Domain, and the American Lust for Land, that told the story of how Royall teamed up with the city of Freeport, Texas, in a project that would displace a long-running family business by using eminent domain for private gain. Royall didn’t like the way the book portrayed his role in this abuse of government power, so he sued Carla Main and her publisher, Encounter Books, for defamation. He even sued renowned law professor Richard Epstein for contributing a blurb to the book’s back cover.
The lawsuit was a blatant attempt by Royall to bully his critics into silence. And yesterday afternoon, a
The ruling is great example of judicial engagement. Royall claimed that 79 separate statements in
The ruling is also a big win for First Amendment rights. Eminent domain abuse is a matter of public concern—that’s why journalists like Carla Main write books about it. If Royall had succeeded in silencing
Finally, the ruling will serve as a helpful adjunct to
Congratulations to Carla Main, Encounter Books, Richard Epstein, and all of my colleagues who had a hand in the victory.
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