Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Nicholas Sandmann’s Dismissed Lawsuit against Multiple Media Outlets

The United States Supreme Court has declined to take up the case of Nicholas Sandmann after his lawsuit against multiple corporate media outlets was dismissed.

Sandmann, a young pro-life Trump supporter from Kentucky, attempted to sue several media organizations for alleged defamation and libel over their coordinated public smears of him.

The smear attacks came following a confrontation with a Native American activist during a school trip to Washington D.C. in January 2019.

That lawsuit had been dismissed by a district court and circuit court panel.

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has also declined to take up Sandmann’s petition for his case to be considered, according to the Washington Examiner.

The brief standoff, during which Sandmann silently smiled while activist Nathan Phillips banged a drum in his face, went viral at the time.

The confrontation led to countless reports from multiple media organizations that overtly sided with Phillips’ biased accounting of the incident.

Meanwhile, they were simultaneously opining negatively on the alleged beliefs, motivations, and politics of the young high school student.

In an X post on Monday morning, Sandmann wrote without further explanation:

“The Supreme Court of the United States has denied my petition.”

Just a short time earlier that day, the Supreme Court released an Order List that noted, also absent any explanation, the denial of certiorari in the case of SANDMANN, NICHOLAS V. NEW YORK TIMES CO., ET AL.

In addition to The New York Times, Sandmann had sued several media organizations for their allegedly libelous coverage of him, including ABC News, CBS News, Rolling Stone magazine, and Gannett, which owns numerous local media outlets and newspapers across the country.

The Cincinnati Enquirer, which is owned by Gannett, reported in August 2023 about the dismissal of Sandmann’s lawsuit in a 2-1 ruling by a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel that upheld a district court’s similar dismissal of the suit.

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The suit was centered on the media’s overtly biased coverage against Sandmann over the January 2019 incident.

At the time, he was a 16-year-old student of Kentucky’s Covington Catholic High School who was in Washington D.C. with classmates to attend the annual March for Life event.

Sandmann was wearing a red MAGA hat in support of then-President Donald Trump when he was confronted by the drum-beating Native American activist Phillips.

The teen was gratuitously smeared as a hateful bigot and racist by countless media outlets and pundits.

The media attempted to frame Sandmann as a young thug who had attempted to block Phillips’ pathway as he “peacefully” marched.

However, it later emerged that Phillips had approached Sandmann and his friends and attempted to provoke them.

Sandmann did nothing more than stand silently and smile in response to the provocations from Phillips.

Phillips was attending an unrelated Indigenous Peoples March in the nation’s capital that same day.

That was the take of the lone dissenting opinion in the panel’s ruling by Judge Richard Allen Griffin.

Griffin pointed out how the media had completely sided with Phillips and shared his biased account of the incident as though it was an established fact while “Their characterization of Nicholas was vicious, widespread, and false.”

Griffin’s view differed from that of his two colleagues in the panel’s majority, who decided that the media’s challenged coverage of Sandmann was protected by the First Amendment as they had done nothing more than share Phillips’ “objectively unverifiable” accounting of the incident and “opinion” that was “contextual and subjective” to the interpretations of individuals readers and viewers of the viral video clips.

The Enquirer noted that Sandmann had sought a combined total of $1.25 billion in damages from the named media organizations in his suit, including $195M from the outlet’s parent company Gannett.

Other media outlets like CNN, The Washington Post, and NBC News were also initially listed as defendants in the lawsuit but were later dropped after each separately entered into settlement agreements with Sandmann for undisclosed terms, including CNN and The Post in 2020 and NBC in 2021.

At the time of the dismissal, Sandmann’s attorney had vowed to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, and said in a statement:

“We have put a lot of work into this case and will continue to seek justice for Nicholas Sandmann.

“We plan to pursue every available opportunity to win this case.”

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By Nick R. Hamilton

Nick has a broad background in journalism, business, and technology. He covers news on cryptocurrency, traditional assets, and economic markets.

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