Supreme Court to hear lawmaker’s defamation case

Wendy Rogers speaks at a fundraiser in Scottsdale in 2014./ Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr

By Kyra Haas | Arizona Capitol Times

The Arizona Supreme Court will hear the defamation case that stems from Arizona State Sen. Wendy Rogers’ attack ads during her failed 2018 Congressional run.  

Rogers’ opponent’s former employer Pamela Young said that the ads defamed her and her company by implying she “had committed or supported the commission of sex crimes.”  

The key question, Young’s attorneys wrote in their petition to the court, is, “Can a political candidate be liable for defaming a third party while attacking a political opponent?” They say there hasn’t been another Arizona case that discusses this issue. 

The attorneys for Rogers argued that the continued litigation will chill political speech and keep politicians from bringing up their opponents’ employers.  

“The First Amendment’s protection for political speech is irreconcilable with a rule that friends, employers, and acquaintances of a political candidate can force a jury trial simply by stating a theoretically possible defamatory implication,” they wrote in their petition to deny review. “The chilling effect of adopting Plaintiffs’ rule would be catastrophic.” 

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