On November 3, the Alliance joined a brief in Florio v. Gallaudet, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asking the court to affirm the dismissal of defamation claims filed by Gallaudet University fraternity alumni against The Washington Post and Gallaudet University defendants. Plaintiffs filed a defamation case after The Washington Post ran a story reporting on allegations of racism against the fraternity and referred to a photograph from the late 1980s of 34 fraternity members (two of the Plaintiffs were in the photo). The District Court held that the defamation claims must fail because an individual cannot recover for alleged defamation of a group to which the individual belonged, and the Plaintiffs appealed. The amicus brief, drafted by RCFP, argues that the claims are barred by the group libel doctrine and that the small group exception to the doctrine must continue to be a narrow one. The correct application of the doctrine is integral to news and magazine organizations that routinely report on the activities of large organizations and groups. Unfortunately, on November 7, 2023, the Court, without stating a reason, denied RCFP’s motion for leave to file the friend-of-the-court brief. Read more.
Charlotte McBirney is Senior Counsel and Director, Public Policy for the News/Media Alliance.