The $250 million defamation lawsuit filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann against the Washington Post was dismissed Friday.
Attorneys for the Kentucky teen — who was filmed earlier this year in January wearing a MAGA hat in a viral standoff with Native American activist Nathan Phillips in Washington, DC — claimed the newspaper’s coverage of the incident led to a “mob of bullies which attacked, vilified & threatened” Sandmann.
But US District Judge William Bertelsman tossed the suit, saying the paper was within its rights to publish Phillips’ views that the teen was deliberately blocking his path — even if that wasn’t the case.
“The Court accepts Sandmann’s statement that, when he was standing motionless in the confrontation with Philip’s his intent was to calm the situation and not to impede or block anyone,” Bertelsman wrote in a ruling.
“However, Phillips did not see it that way. He concluded that he was being ‘blocked’ and not allowed to ‘retreat,’” the ruling read.
“He passed these conclusions on to The Post. They may have been erroneous, but … they are opinion protected by the First Amendment. And The Post is not liable for publishing these opinions, for the reasons discussed in this Opinion.”