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John Walsh Quoted on Fighting Libel in Foreign Courts

First Amendment Senior Counsel John J. Walsh was quoted in the article "Fighting Back: Libel: It's What You Say and When and Where You Say It," which appeared in HuntingtonNews.Net on May 5, 2009. The article explains how the courts in the U.S. require the libeled party to prove that the defendant published the statement knowing it to be false or with reckless disregard to its truth. However, under the laws in England, Canada, Australia, the British Caribbean, and other countries, the defendant is considered guilty until proved innocent. "Wealthy foreigners who believe they have been offended by something written and published in the U.S. are trying to get around 'actual malice' and our libel laws by bringing action in England and other foreign courts where the laws are plaintiff-friendly," says Walsh. "This type of action, called 'libel tourism,' has prompted legislative action to prevent foreign libel judgments from being recognized and enforced in U.S. courts unless they are consistent with the same protection afforded by First Amendment laws," Walsh adds. "Free speech for Americans under the First Amendment now stops at the Atlantic and Pacific shorelines and the Canadian and Mexican borders," says Walsh. "However, some proposed legislation that would award damages in a U.S. lawsuit against a foreigner who sues an American for libel in a foreign court not only is ridiculous and insulting to the courts of our best foreign friends, but is unconstitutional because of a lack of due process of the law."

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