A New York Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the Times’s conduct was protected by the First Amendment.
A New York judge has dismissed former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against the New York Times and its journalists.
According to CNN, the former president filed his complaint against the Times after it released his tax information in a 2018 publication.
However, earlier this week, New York County Supreme Court Judge Robert Teed dismissed the lawsuit, ordering Trump to pay the Times’ attorneys’ fees, legal expenses, and other costs.
In his ruling, Reed found that the journalists’ conduct was protected by the New York Constitution, and that Trump’s claims lacked merit.
Trump, notes CNN, had earlier alleged that the New York Times and its staff were liable for so-called “tortious interference,” insofar as they interviewed his niece and caused her to breach a 2001 settlement contract with the former president’s family members.
Reed said that he was dismissing the lawsuit because the Times’ “purpose in reporting on a story of high public interest constitutes justification as a matter of law.”
The judge also observed that recent amendments to New York’s anti-SLAPP law—a statute that protects journalistic integrity and other First Amendment rights—allowed the Times and its legal team to request a quick dismissal.
“Courts have long recognized that reporters are entitled to engage in legal and ordinary news-gathering activities without fear of tort liability—as these actions are at the very core of protected first amendment activity,” Reed said.
“The revised anti-SLAPP law was specifically designed to apply to lawsuits like this one,” Reed wrote in his ruling. “In fact, among other reasons, plaintiffs’ history of litigation—that some observers have described as abusive and frivolous—inspired the expansion of the law.”
Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesman for the New York Times, said that the company is pleased with the court’s decision.
“The New York Times is pleased with the judge’s decision today,” Stadtlander said. “It is an important precedent reaffirming that the press is protected when it engages in routine news gathering to obtain information of vital importance to the public.”
However, Trump and his legal team have signaled that they may already be preparing an appeal.
Alina Habba, among Trump’s more prominent personal attorneys, said that “we will weigh our client’s options and continue to vigorously fight on his behalf.”
The New York Times and its reporters, Habba said, “went well beyond the conventional news-gathering techniques permitted by the First Amendment.”
“All journalists,” she added, “most be held accountable when they commit civil wrongs.”