- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2022

The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not hear a challenge brought by conservative commentator Candace Owens over her complaints against “fact checkers” on Facebook and her opinion about the COVID-19 death count.

Ms. Owens uses Facebook as a platform for her career as a political commentator. She sued Lead Stories and USA Today, who work with Facebook as “fact-checkers” and have the ability to cancel or suspend certain pages and posts.

The fact checkers labeled Ms. Owens’ posts as “false” and a “hoax” when she commented on the government’s COVID-19 death count, suggesting the deaths were over-counted because of tabulation methods she criticized.

She claims the fact-checkers interfered with her business and ran afoul of her free-speech rights for suppressing her posts.

Her comments were thoughtful, researched, political, public, and certainly controversial: in short, they lie at the very heart of the protections of the First Amendment, addressing perhaps the most important public issue at the time,” her lawyers argued in court papers.

Without comment, the high court declined to take up her case. It would have taken four justices to vote in favor of hearing the matter.

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Ms. Owens’ attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An attorney for USA Today cheered the high court‘s move declining to hear the dispute.

“USA Today appreciates the Supreme Court‘s refusal to disturb the rulings by the Delaware courts recognizing that the First Amendment’s protection for truthful news reporting on a paramount matter of public importance cannot be circumvented by asserting claims sounding in tortious interference with business relations and unfair competition,” attorney Mike Grygiel said.

Alan Duke, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Lead Stories, noted his organization was awarded and recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists for its fact-checking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Disinformation during a global pandemic can be deadly. Lead Stories stands by our fact-checking work, believing that we helped save lives by helping social media users sort the factual from the false about COVID-19. This lawsuit did not deter us from that mission. We were confident that we had the facts and law on our side, and the relevant courts agreed,” he said.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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