A New York judge dismissed former President Donald Trump’s lawsuit against The New York Times on Wednesday, saying the newspaper’s reporting on his tax returns was protected by the First Amendment.
Trump sued the paper, three of its reporters and his niece Mary Trump in 2021 after a series of bombshell reports about his tax records. The former president demanded “no less” than $100 million at the time, accusing the journalists of taking part in an “insidious plot” to obtain the records from his niece.
The series later won a Pulitzer Prize.
The judge rejected the former president’s argument on Wednesday, saying the case failed “as a matter of constitutional law,” ordering Trump to pay legal fees and associated costs for the Times and its reporters.
“Courts have long recognized that reporters are entitled to engage in legal and ordinary news-gathering activities without fear of tort liability — as these actions are at the very core of protected First Amendment activity,” New York Supreme Court Justice Robert Reed wrote in his decision.
There was no decision about the case against Mary Trump, who has said she was the source for the Times’ reporting. Her attorneys told The Washington Post they were pleased with the ruling, adding they were “confident the court will also protect Ms. Trump’s exercise of her First Amendment rights.”
The Times also said it was pleased with the ruling.
“It is an important precedent reaffirming that the press is protected when it engages in routine news gathering to obtain information of vital importance to the public,” a spokesperson for the media company said Wednesday.
Trump’s attorneys told the Times they would weigh his options and “continue to vigorously fight on his behalf.” It’s unclear if they plan to appeal the ruling.