First Amendment

Judge Orders Divorcing Blogger to Take Down Posts on Marriage

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A Vermont judge has ordered a divorcing spouse to take down all his Internet postings about his wife and their marriage, surprising some First Amendment experts.

The lawyer for blogger William Krasnansky contends the order by Judge Thomas Devine violates her client’s right to free speech, the New York Times reports. The lawyer, Debra Schoenberg of Burlington, has asked the judge to vacate his order. Krasnansky says the posts represent a fictionalized account of his marriage.

Susan Ellwood Montpelier, the lawyer for Krasnansky’s divorcing wife, called the blog postings “inaccurate, derogatory, defamatory and inappropriate” and said they could be banned as harassment, according to court filings.

First Amendment experts said courts generally don’t enjoin speech absent a hearing and a defamation suit. Typically damages rather than an injunction would be the typical remedy.

But Duke University law professor Erwin Chemerinsky told the Times that courts are increasingly issuing injunctions to stop negative speech. “The Supreme Court hasn’t yet ruled as to whether you could have an injunction in a situation like this, or more generally, in a case of defamatory speech,” he said.

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