Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Nebraska Supreme Court
by
The Appellant Rex Moats was a former candidate for the thirty ninth district of Nebraska Legislature. During the course of the 2008 election, the Republican Party paid for and distributed publications in opposition to Moatsâ candidacy. Moats filed a complaint in district court, where he identified in eleven separate publications instances of where he claimed the Republican Party defamed him, portrayed him in a false light and violated several consumer protection laws. The Republican Party filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, and the court granted it, dismissing Moatsâ case. The Supreme Court noted that context was critical to analyzing whether a statement was defamatory, particularly if the statement expressed a fact or opinion. The Court examined the circumstances in which each statement was made, finding they were political campaign brochures intended to persuade voters to vote against Moats through the use of rhetoric and hyperbole. The Court characterized all of the cited statements as âopinionâ and held they were protected speech under the Constitution. The Court could not find that the statements violated consumer protection laws. Accordingly, it affirmed the district courtâs decision to dismiss Moatsâ case.