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NEWDOW DOESN’T GET SLAPPED Another California court has refused to stop the famous Pledge of Allegiance challenger Michael Newdow from suing over the unkind things a stranger wrote about him on the Internet. In an unpublished and unanimous ruling Tuesday, the First District Court of Appeal refused defendant Austin Miles’ attempt to label Newdow’s libel suit a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and to get it thrown out. The ruling upheld a superior court decision out of Contra Costa County. In the 2002 Internet article at the heart of the case, Miles, a self-described “interdenominational chaplain,” quoted a statement he alleged Newdow made before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals during his constitutional challenge to the Pledge of Allegiance. Miles’ article then went on to accuse Newdow of lying under oath and urged the public to demand Newdow be charged with perjury. Newdow has denied making the statement Miles quoted. Though the First District sided with Newdow this week, Justices Paul Haerle, J. Anthony Kline and James Lambden emphasized that their analysis had a relatively low bar. Because Newdow had disowned the quote under oath and had accused Miles of fabricating it maliciously, Haerle added, “these allegations coupled with the text of Miles’ Internet publication provide the ‘minimal merit’ required to deny a SLAPP motion.”

Pam Smith

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