The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday for a second time declined to take up a case related to sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Cosby, refusing to consider reviving a defamation lawsuit against the comedian filed by a woman who said he falsely called her a liar after she accused him of raping her in 1974.
The justices turned away an appeal by Kathrine McKee, an actress and former Las Vegas showgirl, of a lower court ruling in Massachusetts that threw out her lawsuit. Separately, Cosby was sentenced last September to three to 10 years in prison in Pennsylvania for sexually assaulting another woman in 2004.
In doing so, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a separate opinion calling for the court to reconsider a major 1964 Supreme Court precedent that made it harder for public figures to bring defamation claims. Thomas called the 1964 ruling in the case called New York Times v. Sullivan and other related precedents “policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law.”
Thomas’ views appear aligned with President Donald Trump. In January 2018 Trump called current defamation laws “a sham and a disgrace” following the publication of a book about the White House by Michael Wolff called “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” which among other things questioned the president’s mental health.
The Supreme Court last October snubbed an appeal by Cosby in another defamation case, allowing a lawsuit brought by former model Janice Dickinson to go forward against the entertainer best known for his starring role in the 1980s hit television series “The Cosby Show.”
McKee went public with her rape accusation against Cosby in a 2014 interview with the New York Daily News. She is one of more than 50 women who in recent years have accused Cosby of sexual assault dating back to the 1960s by using drugs to incapacitate them.
An attorney for Cosby then sent a letter to the newspaper, suggesting McKee was a liar and calling her an unreliable source. In the letter, Cosby’s lawyer said McKee had admitted lying to get hired as a showgirl.
McKee sued Cosby for defamation in 2015 in federal court in Boston, saying the letter made false statements and harmed her reputation.
A trial judge in Springfield, Massachusetts in 2017 dismissed her claims, saying the lawsuit was barred by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech. The Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling.
The appeals court said that by deliberately wading into the controversy, McKee had become a public figure, requiring her to prove Cosby acted with malice – meaning he knew his statements were false – to win a defamation claim.
McKee told the justices that she “should not be victimized twice over” by making it harder for her to prove defamation merely because she went public as an alleged victim.
Cosby, 81, was found guilty in April 2018 of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for the drugging and sexual assault of Andrea Constand, a former Temple University administrator, at his Philadelphia home in 2004. He was sentenced in that case on Sept. 25.
Reporting by Andrew Chung. Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham
Gov. Jay Inslee withdraws from presidential election
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that he was officially leaving the presidential race Thursday.
He said that he got into the race with the intention of trying to raise the important issue of climate change and demand the issue be part of the conversation in the debates.
The Democratic Party has refused to have a debate that focuses exclusively on climate change, despite the numerous plans, ideas and approaches from the 20-plus candidates running for president.
He said that he isn't currently endorsing other candidates for 2020, but he hopes that his "atlas" for a climate plan will be adopted by other candidates.
Scorching WaPo editorial tells Trump to own his bad economy and stop blaming the fed
In a scathing piece from the Washington Post editorial board, the team at one of the nation's top papers told President Donald Trump to stop trying to pretend it's the Federal Reserve's fault for a slumping economy.
Trump has tried to claim that the economy isn't just fine, but outstanding and excelling expectations. Yet, in the same breath, Trump claims that that the Federal Reserve is responsible for all of the problems he says don't exist. It's enough for The Post editorial board to note the economic message is "remarkably dissonant."
Trump decided to that the Fed must lower interest rates and engage in “quantitative easing” to lower bonds. It's part of a tactic the Fed uses during tough times, which Trump says don't exist. Even during the worst financial crisis in a generation, in 2008, "quantitative easing" was controversial. Then there is the matter of a payroll tax cut, something Trump said he was looking at before saying he wasn't looking at it. But if there's no crisis, then why is it necessary.
Trump’s economic policy is like ‘burning all your furniture to heat the house’: New York Times columnist
On Wednesday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," New York Times columnist Tom Friedman scorned President Donald Trump's economic policy of endless tax cuts and cheap credit as a cynical ploy to get elected, rather than something in the long-term interest of economic stability.
"You know, under Obama, Republicans were screaming about the deficit, about deficits, the whole Tea Party was about deficits," said Cooper. "No one seems to care about that at all, and the deficits have exploded, and certainly this president doesn't care about that."
"You know, look, the party is clearly a cult of personality, it's not a 'party' in any sense that it was before," said Friedman. "What is more conservative than to say that, running up a debt this high and then beating on the Fed to lower interest rates is kind of like burning all your furniture to heat the house, and one day you'll run out of furniture?"