FILING: Alec Baldwin’s Social Media Posts In Fallen Wyoming Marine Lawsuit Constitutionally Protected
In a federal court filing this week, actor Alec Baldwin, through his attorneys, claimed that he had a constitutionally protected right to label a family member of a fallen Wyoming Marine as an insurrectionist.
Lance Corporal Riley McCollum was killed in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan in August. Following his death, Baldwin donated $5,000 to a GoFundMe set up to help McCollum's widow care for their soon-to-be-born child.
Months later, Roice McCollum, Riley McCollum's sister, posted a picture of herself at the January 6 Capitol Riots on Instagram. Baldwin saw the picture and shared it to his more than 2 million followers and claimed that Roice McCollum was a participant in the insurrection in which rioters stormed the US Capitol.
Roice McCollum spoke with the FBI and is not currently charged.
Roice McCollum, Joleen McCollum and Jiennah McCollum subsequently filed suit in US District Court for $25 million.
In his most recent filing, Baldwin claims his statements on social media are protected under the FIrst Amendment.
"(The McCollums) argue that the Court has personal jurisdiction because Baldwin 'picked a fight in Wyoming and scurried back to his Manhattan penthouse,' but admit that Baldwin never stepped foot in Wyoming," Baldwin's response states. "They refer to Baldwin's success, his fame and his 'Manhattan penthouse,' but don't explain why these things matter.
"Baldwin expressed his protected political opinion about the events of January 6. Plaintiffs try hard to make this case about something else — rich versus poor, celebrities versus 'most Americans,' red states versus blue states. But it's not. The First Amendment protects all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, fame or wealth."
In previous filings, the McCollum family has argued that because they reside in Wyoming, Baldwin should be held accountable by federal courts in the state.
Not so, say Baldwin's attorneys.
Baldwin's attorneys contend that the McCollums conceded Baldwin's social media posts occurred while he sat in his penthouse in Manhattan. The law, Baldwin's attorneys assert, is clear in that the McCollum family isn't a strong enough link to conduct the case in Wyoming.
Attorneys for Baldwin also argue that the McCollums have conceded that Baldwin never explicitly accused Roice McCollum of committing a crime. The word insurrectionist for Baldwin is no different than using other loose terms such as "crook," for example.
"Plaintiffs' own allegations and exhibits demonstrate that Baldwin did not accuse them of committing a crime," the response states. "Rather, as discussed in Baldwin's opening brief, the word 'insurrection' does not impute criminal conduct because dictionary definitions and common usage refer to matters not chargeable as a crime. Instead, Baldwin's statements constituted protected opinion, as courts have held in numerous analogous circumstances."
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