Tag Archives: free speech

The First Amendment Protects Radio Hosts Covering Online Attacks Against A Sports Referee

The University of North Carolina (UNC) NCAA men’s basketball team ended the 2017 season for the University of Kentucky (UK) in a controversial game. Indeed, many UK fans blamed their team’s loss on supposed bad calls by a referee, John Higgins.

The wrath of the UK fans was so intense that Higgins received criticisms at his private job. On top of that, two Kentucky Sports Radio (KSR) hosts, Drew Franklin and Matt Jones (the hosts), vented negative comments about Higgins’ officiating. In so doing, the hosts conveyed online attacks that had been posted about Higgins. While reporting about the online attacks, the hosts at times repeated the attacks word for word, while minimally suggesting that fans not promulgate further attacks.

Higgins believed that the attacks and the reporting harmed him personally and his business. He filed suit against KSR and the hosts, alleging various causes of action. The federal district court dismissed the lawsuit based on the First Amendment, and Higgins appealed to the Sixth Circuit. In a recent decision in Higgins v. Kentucky Sports Radio, the Sixth Circuit agreed that the district court correctly dismissed the case on First Amendment grounds. Continue reading The First Amendment Protects Radio Hosts Covering Online Attacks Against A Sports Referee