Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc., which does business as D. James Kennedy Ministries, has sued the Southern Poverty Law Center, Amazon and Guidestar in federal court in Alabama. The complaint is here. The case arises out of SPLC’s designation of the Kennedy Ministries as a “hate group” because, consistent with Christian doctrine, it opposes gay marriage. Because of that designation, Amazon has barred Kennedy Ministries from its Amazon Smile program for nonprofits, and Guidestar has republished SPLC’s smear in its guide to nonprofits, which is heavily relied on by donors.
I love to see SPLC get sued, and it would be great if they lost. They deserve it. Amazon, too. But I doubt that this case has much of a chance. There are some more or less clever theories in the complaint–the Lanham Act, and a Civil Rights Act claim against Amazon predicated on the theory that it is a public accommodation since it sells movies and songs–but the core claim is defamation, and the central defendant is SPLC.
Of course, SPLC won’t want this case to get anywhere near a jury. It won’t try to mount a truth defense, but will argue that as a matter of law its statement that Kennedy is a “hate group” is an opinion and therefore cannot be the basis of liability. As I understand it, SPLC hasn’t asserted any facts about Kennedy Ministries that could be shown to be false, but has merely included the organization on its “hate map.” If that is correct, the opinion defense is destined to prevail.
Still, it is heartwarming to see someone go after one of the most detestable organizations in America. And the politically correct Amazon, too. Even if unsuccessful, the litigation may alert more people to what an unreliable, partisan organization SPLC is.