From Reuters, with thanks to Skeet Street.
PHOENIX, July 1 – The Arizona state Supreme Court ruled on Friday a Tucson newspaper could not be held liable for publishing a letter that urged people to kill Muslims to retaliate for the death of American soldiers in Iraq.
In a 5-0 ruling, Arizona’s highest court found unanimously the Tucson Citizen was protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and could not be sued for printing the letter in December 2003. The opinion reversed a lower court judge.
The court stated the letter to the editor “does not fall within one of the well-recognized exceptions to the general rule of First Amendment protection for political speech.” It ordered the case be sent back to Pima County Superior Court and dismissed without the chance to be refiled…
The lawsuit, filed by Aly W. Elleithee and Wali Yudeen S. Abdul Rahim, stemmed from a three-paragraph letter in the Citizen that called for quick retaliation for soldiers’ deaths.
“Whenever there is an assassination or another atrocity, we should proceed to the closest mosque and execute five of the first Muslims we encounter,” the letter said. “After all, this is a ‘Holy War” and although such a procedure is not fair or just, it might end the horror.”
The letter caused an uproar in Tucson and prompted Chihak to issue an apology for printing it.
The Tucson men, who are Muslims, filed suit claiming that the letter constituted an assault and an intentional infliction of emotional distress. The assault claim was dismissed by the lower court, but the distress charge was allowed to continue…