Appeals Court: Elizabeth Warren Has Immunity from Covington Catholic Defamation Suit

Tweets 'were calculated to serve the interests of defendants’ constituents...'

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a decision Thursday that two Democratic Congresswomen cannot be prosecuted for defamation against the Covington Catholic teens because of qualified immunity, Bloomberg Law reported.

The young men sued Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Deb. Haaland, D-N.M., for defamation over tweets that the two politicians sent.

“Omaha elder and Vietnam War veteran Nathan Phillips endured hateful taunts with dignity and strength, then urged us all to do better. Listen to his words,” Warren said in a false representation of the encounter.

“The students’ display of blatant hate, disrespect, and intolerance is a signal of how common decency has decayed under this administration. Heartbreaking,” Haaland wrote in a tweet.

Judge Eric L. Clay authored the opinion, which Judges Helene N. White and Chad A. Readler agreed to.

The judges found that the Federal Tort Claims Act protects legislators from lawsuits because it considers them to be federal employees.

Clay wrote that Warren and Haaland’s false tweets were services to their constituents.

The tweets “were calculated to serve the interests of defendants’ constituents (i.e., employers) by informing them of defendants’ views regarding a topical issue and related legislation,” Clay wrote.

It’s unclear how the tweets related to public policy or legislation.

“Congressmembers routinely broadcast their views on pending legislation and related current events through press releases, televised speeches, interviews, and, as in the present case, through social media postings,” Clay wrote.

He describe the tweets as “errands” for constituents that are roughly equivalent to “preparing so-called ‘news letters’ to constituents, news releases, and speeches delivered outside the Congress.”


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