First Amendment

AP Photo Sidney Powell

Lawyer Sidney Powell at a news conference at the Republican National Committee on lawsuits regarding the outcome of the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 19, 2020. Photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images.

Lawyers representing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell are seeking dismissal of a defamation lawsuit by arguing that her comments about rigged voting machines are constitutionally protected political speech that no reasonable person would think are statements of fact.

The lawyers made the argument in seeking dismissal of a $1.3 billion defamation suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems, report Law.com, BuzzFeed News and CNN.

The Dominion suit claims that Powell made “demonstrably false” accusations that its machines were rigged to swing the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden. The suit claims that Powell put forward “conspiracy theorists, con artists and other facially unreliable sources as experts” to back up her claims.

Powell had alleged massive election fraud, promising to “release the kraken” in lawsuits challenging election results. None of her lawsuits was successful, according to BuzzFeed News.

The March 22 dismissal motion says Powell’s statements were her opinions and legal theories on a matter of utmost public concern.

“The highly charged and political nature of the statements likewise underscores their political and hence partisan nature,” the motion says.

Reasonable people understand that political language is “often vituperative, abusive and inexact,” and such statements are “inherently prone to exaggeration and hyperbole,” the dismissal motion says, citing previous court decisions.

Dominion’s characterization of Powell’s statements as “wild” and “outlandish” also support Powell’s position—that “reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts through the adversary process,” the motion says.

The suit also says Powell’s statements are protected because the concerned pending and impending litigation on issues “of momentous significance and immense public interest.”

The motion argues that Dominion is a public figure, which requires it to prove actual malice by Powell, and the plaintiffs cannot meet that standard because Powell relied on sworn statements about Dominion’s voting machines.

Lawyers who rely on sworn declarations in “fast-moving litigation concerning matters of transcendent public importance” are entitled to the same First Amendment protections as journalists who rely on anonymous sources, the dismissal motion argues.

The lawyers are also arguing that if the suit is not dismissed, it should be moved from Washington, D.C., to Texas, where Powell resides and has a law practice.

Powell is represented by lawyers Jesse Binnall, Lawrence Joseph and Howard Kleinhendler. The case is U.S. Dominion Inc. v. Powell.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “Election lawyers say they can’t be sanctioned if they signed documents in typewritten form”

ABAJournal.com: “Voting machine company Dominion files $1.3B defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani”

ABAJournal.com: “Hundreds of lawyers call for ethics probes of attorneys for election fraud claims; are bar charges likely?”

ABAJournal.com: “In election cases, Trump-appointed judges rule against Trump and allies, express skepticism”

ABAJournal.com: “Trump lawyer says official who defended voting machines should be shot; AG Barr also sees no manipulation”

ABAJournal.com: “‘Calling an election unfair does not make it so,’ 3rd Circuit says”