The Supreme Court on Monday rejected MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s bid to fend off a defamation lawsuit filed by voting machine company Dominion Voting Systems over its far-fetched claims about the 2020 presidential election.
The judges’ decision not to hear the case means that a federal judge’s ruling in August 2021, which allowed the lawsuit to continue, remains in effect.
Lindell, a prominent TV salesman of the pillows his company makes, is an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump.
Dominion sued Lindell and MyPillow in February 2021, claiming $1.3 billion in damages and alleging that Lindell deliberately pushed the “big lie” that Trump had won the 2020 election. Lindell repeatedly made unfounded claims that Dominion’s machines manipulated vote counts to ensure Joe Biden beat Trump. The claims have been widely debunked. In the lawsuit, Dominion argues that Lindell knew his claims were false, while Lindell’s lawyers say he truly believes them.
“Lindell claims today, as he did during the relevant period, that his statements regarding Dominion, his voting machines and the integrity of the table were and remain valid, accurate and true,” Lindell’s attorneys wrote in court documents. .
Lindell had unsuccessfully asked U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols of Washington, DC, to allow him to appeal two legal questions related to the landmark 1964 Supreme Court defamation ruling in the New York Times v. Sullivan, which was concluded that there must be evidence of “actual malice” for a public figure to file a defamation charge. Lindell argues that Dominion is a public figure because it holds a government position in elections and therefore the norm is “genuine malice” His lawyers argue that because Lindell sincerely believes in his allegations, there was no “real malice” involved and the lawsuit should therefore be dismissed.
Dominion has also sued Trump allies Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani for defamation. Nichols also allowed those claims, but Powell and Giuliani were not involved in Lindell’s appeal to the Supreme Court.
In a separate case, in May, Nichols dismissed Lindell’s own defamation lawsuit against Dominion and Smartmatic, another voting machine company. Dominion and Smartmatic have also filed similar defamation lawsuits against Fox News and other conservative media outlets.
Two conservative judges — Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch — have suggested that the 1964 precedent of defamation, which makes it more difficult for public figures to bring charges of defamation, should be reversed.