Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bloggers and the First Amendment

How much First Amendment protection do bloggers have?

Ligonier Ministries Inc., a Lake Mary religious publisher and broadcaster, is asking Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson to stop blogger Frank Vance from posting any more slurs about its president, Timothy A. Dick.

In the past five months, Vance's blog has described Dick as part of a "family of nincompoops," "a very corrupt man" and "a lying, thieving con artist," according to the lawsuit.

Two weeks ago, Dick and the ministry sued Vance for defamation, asking for unspecified monetary damages.It also asked for something that judges have historically refused to impose on news organizations -- a publishing ban.

Media lawyers call that "prior restraint."

On his blog, Tim Vance seems willing to go the distance for his right to say what he thinks,

At this time I'm weighing my options and haven't decided what my next move is. One thing is for certain though, I won't be backing down. If Tim Dick wants a fight then I say "Bring it on."
Mr. Dick is the son-in-law of R.C. Sproul. This is one case all bloggers should take note of. (HT: Cindy)

In another First Ammendment issue, Scott Somerville let's us know that that blogs are not subject to the Mc-Cain Feingold Act.

Blogs are not subject to this ban, so from here to November 7th it's up to us to speak out for freedom of speech. You are welcome to use this space to endorse or criticize any candidate for federal office!
So I'm confused. If Ligonier wins their case, does that mean bloggers can criticize someone running for President, but not criticize the President of a ministry? Blogs are still so new and the law is still trying to catch up. Greg Herbert, a First Amendment lawyer in Orlando, said,
"I think a lot of judges don't know what a blog is."

Update link: Libel in the Blogosphere: Some Preliminary Thoughts by Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit)

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