The Texas Supreme Court on Friday rejected, without comment, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ attempt to toss out four defamation lawsuits by parents of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
The parents sued in Travis County, where Jones and his InfoWars website are based, arguing that they were defamed and suffered emotional distress after InfoWars broadcasts disputed the authenticity of the school shooting and the news coverage that followed.
Twenty young children and six adults died in the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Friday’s action by the Supreme Court upheld rulings by two lower courts that had allowed the lawsuits to continue.
The state’s highest civil court also gave the green light to another defamation lawsuit against InfoWars and reporter Kit Daniels by a man mistakenly identified as a suspect in the 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Friday’s announcement by the Supreme Court noted that two members, Justices Jeff Boyd and John Devine, would have granted Jones’ petition for review in the Pozner lawsuit, but the court order provided no reasons for their dissent.
In briefs to the Supreme Court, lawyers for Jones argued that the InfoWars host was engaging in protected speech because he was addressing matters of public concern.
“The pursuit of so-called ‘conspiracy theories’ concerning controversial government activities has been a part and parcel of American political discourse since our Founding, and it is protected by the First Amendment,” they told the court in a brief for the Pozner and De La Rosa case.
Jones also argued that state libel laws required any harmful speech to be directed at specific family members, but the Sandy Hook families were not named in three InfoWars reports in 2017.
But a lawyer for the Sandy Hook families argued that Jones didn’t merely say the school shooting was staged by the government, he also generally accused family members of being actors to help sell a supposed coverup and exploit the event to attack gun rights.
As a result, Jones and InfoWars accused family members of collusion in a hoax “relating to the murder of their son … for nefarious purposes,” lawyer Mark Bankston told the court.
Jones also was reckless in publishing information that was so improbable that no reasonable publisher would have done likewise without substantial confirmation, Bankston argued.
“Mr. Jones’ fantasy about a shadowy government conspiracy to murder first-graders and then exploit the event with the help of the media and actors is the very definition of ‘improbable,'” he wrote.
The lawsuits are by the parents of two of the children that were murdered at Sandy Hook. You never know what can happen, but Jones’ record in defending himself so far isn’t great – he not only lost at the Third Court of Appeals earlier in the year, he was ordered to pay court costs for the frivolity of his appeal. He deserves to lose and to have the full weight of the consequences of his actions come down on him. Law and Crime has more.