Texas Supreme Court Decides Parents of Sandy Hook Can Sue Alex Jones for Defamation
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The Texas Supreme Court announced on Jan. 22 that it would reject a request from Alex Jones, founder of InfoWars, to dismiss four defamation suits from the parents whose children were killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
The Texas Supreme Court held up the decisions by the two lower courts, allowing the lawsuits to proceed. The ruling came out without any announcement from the justices.
The suits were filed in Travis County, where InfoWars is based. The parents argued that they were defamed by Jones, and his quotes caused emotional distress.
Jones previously claimed that “no one died” in the shooting and that it was a set up operation in an attempt to take away Americans’ guns. These comments led to some of his followers harassing and stalking the victims’ families.
Neil Heslin, the father of 6-year-old Jessie Lewis, filed two lawsuits against Jones. These lawsuits were in response to Jones’ claims that the Sandy Hook school shooting was “a giant hoax” and he [Jones] disputed Heslin’s claims that Heslin held his dead son in his arms afterwards.
Scarlett Lewis, mother of Jesse Lewis, filed another lawsuit. She argued that Jones’ statements that the school shooting was “as phony as a three-dollar bill” in addition to other statements that implied that parents weren’t actually grieving the loss of their children.
Finally, Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, parents of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, filed a lawsuit and quoted Jones’ show, in which he said the school shooting was a “false flag” hoax to create momentum to pass gun control legislation.
Lawyers for Jones argued that InfoWars host was engaging in protected speech because it was a matter of public concern, according to briefs to the Texas Supreme Court.
“The pursuit of so-called ‘conspiracy theories’ concerning controversial government activities has been a part and parcel of American political discourse since our Founding, and it is protected by the First Amendment,” Jones’ lawyers told the court in a brief for the Pozner and De La Rosa case.
Lawyer Mark Bankston, who defended some of the Sandy Hooks families, argued that it wasn’t only Jones arguing that the school shooting was staged by the government but also his accusation that the family members worked with the government to conduct this coverup and exploit the shooting to attack gun rights.
“We are pleased Mr. Jones is learning that his frivolous efforts to delay this case will not spare him from the reckoning to come,” he said.