Civil suits emerge as 'most powerful weapon' to stop Trump from 'destroying democracy': report

Civil suits emerge as 'most powerful weapon' to stop Trump from 'destroying democracy': report
(U.S. Air Force photo/Andrew Park)

President Trump debarks Air Force One at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., Sept. 25, 2020. The president arrived at Dobbins to attend a meeting at the Cobb Galleria.

A defamation lawsuit filed against former President Donald Trump this week shows how civil courts are becoming "the most powerful weapon" against the former president's efforts to "destroy democracy," according to Slate.

"That's in part because the Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 has stalled due to obstruction from Steve Bannon and others under investigation, and because the Department of Justice has refused to go after the ringleaders of the mob that rioted at the Capitol," the magazine reports.

On Tuesday, Politico reported that James Savage, a voting machine warehouse custodian in the Philadelphia area, is suing Trump, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and others, alleging they defamed him by falsely suggesting he added votes to President Joe Biden's total in Pennsylvania.

"This newest suit follows similar lawsuits by voting companies Dominion and Smartmatic, and at least one Dominion employee," Slate reports. "It is further evidence that defamation law, which has 'historically been employed by the powerful to silence critics,' according to University of Utah law professor RonNell Andersen Jones, is beginning to play an outsized role in confronting the Big Lie."

Professor Anderson Jones told Slate: "It has been less obvious to us that defamation law can be useful as a pro-democracy, anti-disinformation tool. But it feels like we might be standing on the cusp of a set of cases that are trying to do this."

"Basically, plaintiffs in these defamation suits are looking to flip the script," Anderson Jones added. "They are asserting that some aspects of the disinformation campaigns sufficiently targeted them and their reputations that they warrant relief in tort law. It is really interesting that defamation, of all things, could turn out to at least sometimes be the mechanism we use to combat disinformation from authoritarian influences."

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