On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, ending his efforts to quash Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.3-billion defamation lawsuit against him.
Dominion sued the right-wing bedding purveyor/Donald Trump supporter in February 2021, claiming that he caused billions in damage to the voting machine company through his false claims that Dominion helped rig the 2020 election in favor of Joe Biden.
Dominion also sued Trump lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani for their false claims about the voting company’s role in the election, although Powell and Giuliani were not party to Lindell’s appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s refusal to consider an appeal lets stand an August ruling by a lower court that allowed the lawsuit to continue.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols ruled that freedom of speech does not provide blanket immunity for false political statements. “It is simply not the law that provably false statements cannot be actionable if made in the context of an election,” he wrote.
Judge Nichols also rejected an argument by Lindell and Powell that Dominion should be considered a public figure, which would require proving actual malice to win a defamation suit. He wrote that Dominion had adequately demonstrated that both defendants had made their statements knowing that they were false, or with reckless disregard for the truth. In the appeals bid to the Supreme Court, Lindell’s lawyers continued to argue that Lindell believes the widely discredited conspiracy theories he has promoted.
Last month, U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright denied Lindell’s motion to dismiss a similar, $2.7-billion defamation suit brought by another voting tech company, Smartmatic, alleging Lindell lied about Smartmatic to help sell his pillows.
In addition to their respective suits against Lindell, Powell and Giuliani, Dominion and Smartmatic are also still pursuing separate lawsuits against Fox News (Dominion has also sued parent Fox Corp), Newsmax, and One America News Network (OANN).
The media companies contend that political statements made during broadcasts are part of legitimate news coverage protected by the First Amendment, and accuse the voting companies of trying to squelch protected political discourse and journalism.
Dominion has also sued Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne. In April, Judge Nichols denied Byrne’s motion to dismiss the case, writing that a “reasonable jury could find Byrne acted with actual malice” in spreading "provably false" statements about Dominion.