Up until a couple of months ago, Daniel Mauler, then a commercial litigator at a Virginia boutique law firm, had advocated for a social media activist named Cassandra Fairbanks in the defamation lawsuit she filed in Washington against a journalist.

Fairbanks, a supporter of Donald Trump, last year accused a journalist of defaming her in a tweet that said she flashed a “white power” hand gesture from the White House press room. A federal trial judge days ago ruled against Fairbanks, saying the First Amendment “offers broad protections to those who make [hand] gestures and those who accuse public figures of making them.”