Want politicians to stop lying? File a lot more defamation lawsuits

Opinion: The state Constitution says free speech includes being responsible for abusing it. Judges should put greater weight on the responsibility part.

By Robert Robb | Arizona Republic

Many a hand has been wrung over how to get our political discourse to be more civil and honest.

Rather than another symposium or ignored exhortation, perhaps the way to get things moving in that direction is to invigorate our defamation jurisprudence.

That thought floated to the surface from a couple of recent events.

Dominion sues for defamation

The best known is the decision by Dominion Voting Systems to sue, and threaten to sue, those making false claims about the performance of their voting machines in the last election.

This was part of Donald Trump’s plot to remain in power despite losing the presidential election. Cast doubt on the validity of election results. Then persuade Republican legislatures to choose Trump electoral college delegates in states that Joe Biden won. Many of Arizona’s GOP officials and officeholders were complicit in this plot.

Dominion became a focus of the part of the plot that involved casting doubt on the validity of elections. Wild stories were told by Trumpeteers about supposed secret ownership of the company and secret code in the machines that overcounted Biden votes and undercounted Trump ones.

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