The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected adult film actress Stormy Daniels’ bid to revive her defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump over a Twitter post in which he accused her of a “con job” after she described being threatened over publicizing her account of a sexual relationship with him.
In bringing the case to a close, the justices left in place lower court decisions throwing out her suit. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year agreed with a Los Angeles-based federal judge who decided in 2018 that Trump’s remarks were not defamatory and were protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2006 – the year after he married his third wife Melania and more than a decade before the businessman-turned-politician became president. Trump has denied the sexual encounter.
Daniels has said that in 2011, an unknown man approached her and her infant daughter in a Las Vegas parking lot and threatened her after she had agreed to talk about her experience with Trump in a media interview. Daniels said the man “leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.'”
In 2018, more than a year after Trump became president, she released a sketch of the man. Trump responded on Twitter to the release of the sketch, writing: “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!”
Daniels sued Trump in federal court claiming defamation, saying his comment conveyed his belief that she was a liar. Her lawyers have said the judge was wrong to dismiss the lawsuit under a Texas state law that allows for speedy resolution of cases that are seen to burden the right of free speech.
Daniels was a Texas resident when she filed the lawsuit and Trump was registered as a New York resident.
The legal issue at the center of her appeal was whether such state laws can be applied in federal court when the two parties are from different states. The lawsuit was originally filed in New York but was transferred to Los Angeles, where Daniels had already sued Trump seeking to end a $130,000 hush money agreement intended to silence her over the alleged sexual encounter ahead of the 2016 election. That lawsuit was also dismissed.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)
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