The D.C. Attorney General has thrown his hat into the fight between Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and the owners of the Washington City Paper.
In a court filing Wednesday, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said he was not taking a position for either side in the $1 million defamation lawsuit filed by Snyder against the City Paper. But Nathan rebutted an argument made by Snyder’s attorneys that a new DC law central to the case is unconstitutional.
Attorneys for the weekly paper and its owner, Florida-based Creative Loafing, had previously argued Snyder’s lawsuit should be dismissed in part under the new Anti-SLAPP — for “strategic lawsuits against public participation” — Act. The act, which the D.C. Council passed in the spring, is intended to prohibit lawsuits designed to intimidate or silence critics by burdening them with litigation.
Then in early August, Snyder’s attorneys argued the act was unconstitutional and that Congress, not the D.C. Council, has the authority to pass laws that affect the procedures of the D.C. Superior Court. They also argued that the law does not apply to the suit because the statements in the City Paper were “plainly false” and were not regarding a “matter of public concern.”
Nathan’s nine-page filing Wednesday argued the Anti-SLAPP act is legal and asserts if Judge Todd E. Edelman sides with Snyder, the decision would “cast grave doubt on the validity of that legislation.”
Snyder is suing the paper and one of its writer, David McKenna, over a Nov. 19 article that Snyder says falsely reported he “got caught forging names as a telemarketer with Snyder Communication” as well as ordering the clearing of trees on federally protected land.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Oct. 14.