Alex Jones Cites Free Speech As Defense In Sandy Hook Defamation Lawsuit
A Travis County judge will hear arguments today on whether a defamation case should proceed against media personality and InfoWars founder Alex Jones.
After the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Jones spread conspiracy theories that the incident was fake and called some of the parents and children actors.
Three parents sued Jones and InfoWars in April, arguing his false claims led to death threats. Jones asked the court to dismiss the suit, citing his free speech rights.
Jones argues that the Sandy Hook parents are public figures, so they have a higher bar to claim damage from statements that he and InfoWars made.
But the parents' lawyer, Bill Ogden, said they're not public figures.
"We feel confident that we can prove the malice and/or reckless disregard for the conduct that [Jones] did," he said.
Professor Lucas Powe, a professor at the UT Austin School of Law and a First Amendment scholar, said it's almost impossible to prove libel, but he thinks the parents are going to win this case. They just need to show that Jones' statements were made with utter disregard for the truth.
"It should be fairly easy to show that he [has] just a wildly conspiratorial view of things that is totally divorced from any reality," Powe said.
In their court filing, Jones and InfoWars admitted that the shooting did happen and that the plaintiffs' children were victims, Ogden told KUT.
"And that, in and of itself, is a substantial victory for my clients," he said, "and it does a lot for them emotionally because of what they've gone through over the last five years of hearing this over and over again."
The hearing comes as social media sites have censored Jones and his company. On Friday, Facebook banned him for 30 days over content that violated its guidelines against hate speech and bullying. YouTube removed four InfoWars videos this month for violating its policies. This week, Spotify users widely criticized the streaming service for hosting Jones' show.
The judge has 30 days to decide whether the parents' lawsuit can proceed.