The Libel Bully

The ABA is a group that's almost exclusively lawyers - high-profile and high-compensation people - but they were worried Trump would sue them if they criticized him in print.

And Eiron did a spit take.

Vox:
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the American Bar Association refused to publish a report that it had commissioned on Donald Trump’s tendency to file meritless lawsuits. The punchline? ABA's in-house lawyers were afraid Trump might file a meritless lawsuit over the contents of the report.
An ABA spokesperson now denies that the organization quashed the report. (It was not an official ABA inquiry but a thorough article by the LA-based solo practitioner Susan E. Seager, a longtime media lawyer, written for a publication of the media lawyer subgroup of the ABA.) The spokesperson insists that the ABA's editorial and legal staff simply offered its professional opinion on changes that ought to be made to reduce its supposed partisan tenor, ad hominem tone, and — yes — its profile as a target for a suit. Withdrawing the piece rather than negotiating over changes was the authors' call, the ABA says.
Seager, however, says it was clear that the editorial instructions were nonnegotiable, and David Bodney, the immediate past chair of the ABA's media law subgroup, backs her up. He tells Vox in an email: "In my experience, the ABA's attempt to dilute Ms. Seager's article was extraordinary, if not unprecedented, and demonstrates the importance of lawyers standing up against actions taken under the guise of our libel laws that would chill freedom of expression."

What follows is Seager’s fully footnoted original article, including the vivid language and headline the ABA brass vetoed. —Christopher Shea, Editor of The Big Idea


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