First Amendment Partner Jeff Pyle Quoted on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Hillary Clinton

IN THE PRESS · January 22, 2020

Partner Jeffrey Pyle was quoted in a January 22, 2020 abcnews.go.com article on Representative Tulsi Gabbard’s defamation lawsuit against Hillary Clinton.  The lawsuit alleges that the former secretary of state suggested the congresswoman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate was “a favorite of the Russians.” Gabbard’s lawyers say that Clinton’s remarks caused her to suffer “ significant actual damages, personally and professionally, that are estimated to exceed $50 million—and continue to this day.”  But legal experts say “Gabbard might have a steep challenge in prevailing in her suit.”

“To prevail in her defamation claim, Rep. Gabbard has to prove that Secretary Clinton made a false statement of fact. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that mere ‘loose and figurative’ expressions, even ‘vigorous epithets,’ don’t qualify. And, the courts are especially protective of the right to engage in sharp-elbowed political debate,” said Jeffrey J. Pyle, a Boston-based attorney and law partner at Prince Lobel Tye LLP who has represented clients in a number of cases involving defamation, libel, and First Amendment litigation. “Rep. Gabbard will have a difficult time convincing the court that Secretary Clinton’s statements were anything other than non-factual ‘rhetorical hyperbole,’ which is thoroughly protected by the First Amendment.”

Pyle also noted that Gabbard responded to Clinton’s comments by calling her the “embodiment of corruption.”

” I don’t think Rep. Gabbard’s hyperbolic response is a false statement of fact, any more than Secretary Clinton’s use of the epithet ‘Russian asset’ is,” he said.

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