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D. James Kennedy Ministries Weighs Supreme Court Appeal After 11th Circuit Rejects its SPLC Lawsuit

D. James Kennedy Ministries
Aug. 2, 2021

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 2, 2021 /Christian Newswire/ -- D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM) is reviewing its legal options after the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld on July 28 a lower court ruling dismissing DJKM's defamation and discrimination lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC] and Amazon.

"While I disagree with the Court's conclusion in our case, this opinion does have some bright spots," said Frank Wright, Ph.D., President and CEO of D. James Kennedy Ministries.

"We are now four years into our efforts to defend Bible-believing Christians against false and defamatory statements. My guess is that we are not done with this effort. DJKM's Board of Directors will decide on an appeal in the next few weeks."

DJKM sued the SPLC in 2017 after the self-styled "hate" watchdog/Left-wing advocacy group placed DJKM on the SPLC's "hate map" and classified DJKM as a "hate group" for teaching the traditional, Biblical position on marriage and sexuality. Because of SPLC's false and defamatory label, DJKM has suffered reputational injury and financial harm from both increased security expenses and decreased donations.

Because of the SPLC's false label, Amazon excluded the ministry from participating in Amazon's "Smile" charity program. The 11th Circuit, with respect to Amazon, affirmed in its opinion the "bedrock principle" that "no person in this country may be compelled to subsidize speech by a third party that he or she does not wish to support."

That "bedrock principle," Wright said, is here applied to the world's largest online retailer. Many sole proprietor Christian bakers, photographers and florist, he added, want the same protection. "Instead, they are now forced to fight in courts—and not always successfully—to have this core legal standard applied to them in the context of same-sex 'marriage.'"

The 11th Circuit's opinion, as to the SPLC, did not surprise, said DJKM's attorney, David Gibbs III:

    At least with respect to SPLC, the opinion is what we expected. Although the Court did not address this in its decision, we actually cited Justice Thomas' concurrence in Mckee v. Cosby that encouraged litigants to challenge the New York Times v. Sullivan actual malice standard. We cited that opinion with the intent of challenging the actual malice standard. In its decision, the 11th Circuit affirmed the District Court on the basis of actual malice, so we are exactly where we intended to be at this point.

Gibbs noted that two members of the High Court, Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, have now urged the Court to revisit New York Times v. Sullivan, the 1964 case on which the 11th Circuit relied in its opinion denying DJKM protection against defamation.

"Justice Thomas and now Justice Gorsuch are looking for a case to use to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan," he said. "This might be the one."

D. James Kennedy Ministries is a media ministry whose television program, Truths That Transform, airs nationwide. It actively communicates the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the supremacy of His Lordship, and a Biblically informed view of the world.

SOURCE D. James Kennedy Ministries

CONTACT: John Aman, j.aman@djkm.org