Florida Senate bill makes accusations of 'transphobia' and 'racist' defamatory

Titled the 'Defamation, False Light, and Unauthorized Publication of Name or Likeness' bill, SB 1780 aims to simplify the initiation of defamation claims and potentially limit speech.

Florida Senate bill makes accusations of 'transphobia' and 'racist' defamatory
Creative Commons
Remove Ads

A bill introduced in the Florida Senate, known as SB 1780, is poised to set a new precedent by altering the defamation definitions related to terms like “transphobic, homophobic, racist,” or “sexist.”

This proposal posits that using these terms could be considered defamatory, thereby removing the requirement to prove “actual malice”—a crucial criterion for defamation cases established by the 1964 Supreme Court decision, New York Times v. Sullivan.

Titled the “Defamation, False Light, and Unauthorized Publication of Name or Likeness” bill, SB 1780 aims to simplify the initiation of defamation claims and potentially limit speech, Reclaim the Net reports.

The bill could establish new standards by redefining how defamation is understood in relation to terms like “transphobic, homophobic, racist,” or “sexist.” This legislation proposes that the use of these terms might be considered defamatory, thus bypassing the necessity to prove “actual malice,” a pivotal requirement in defamation cases since the landmark 1964 Supreme Court ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan.

SB 1780 seeks to facilitate the filing of defamation suits and could contribute to the restriction of free speech.

The bill asserts that suggesting someone discriminates based on race, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity is automatically defamatory.

Senator Jason Brodeur's proposal further restricts defense options in cases of alleged defamation for labeling someone as homophobic or transphobic, disallows the use of the defendant's religious or scientific beliefs, and enforces a minimum fine of $35,000.

Alongside, a companion bill, HB 757, is being introduced in the Florida House. Additionally, the legislation seeks to weaken the reliability of anonymous sources for journalists by deeming their information as inherently untrustworthy, increasing the risk of defamation claims against them.

The suggested legislation outlines particular scenarios in which a public figure could allege actual malice. It specifies that under certain circumstances, including the use of unnamed and anonymous sources, inherently unlikely accusations, grounds to question the report's accuracy, and intentional omission of verification or corroboration of the claim, judges may deduce the presence of malice.

Remove Ads
Remove Ads

Don't Get Censored

Big Tech is censoring us. Sign up so we can always stay in touch.

Remove Ads