Court Thows Out Another Attempt To Silence Critics of Eminent Domain

April 30, 2009 | By DAMIEN SCHIFF

by Timothy Sandefur

You're familiar with the frivolous lawsuit filed by Texas developer H. Walker Royall against Carla Main, the author of the excellent book Bulldozed. (The book chronicles an egregious example of eminent domain abuse in which Royall was deeply involved; you can read my review of the book here.) Well, Royall isn't the only one trying to sue critics of eminent domain abuse into silence, in blatant disregard of the First Amendment. Richard Swift and Wayne Wilkinson, public officials in Clarksville, Tennessee, sued critics of a redevelopment project who ran an ad in the local paper criticizing the project. That case has now been thrown out. "Accusing a public official or public figure of using their political influence to obtain a benefit for others or of themselves or favoring their supporters is not defamation," said the judge. "Debate on public issues shall be uninhibited, wide open and generally do include, vehement, caustic and unpleasant attacks on the character of government officials."