THE $250 MILLION lawsuit filed by the lawyers for the family of the smug MAGA loving Covington Catholic schoolboy Nick Sandmann against The Washington Post has been dismissed by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman, who heard oral arguments earlier this month, issued the ruling on Friday in the case that garnered national attention. Nick became embroiled in a divisive response to an encounter between him, his Covington Catholic High classmates and Native Americans on the National Mall.
The $250 million lawsuit filed by Nick Sandmann against the Washington Post has been dismissed by a federal judge.
The Washington Post, in a statement, said it was pleased by the dismissal.
“From our first story on this incident to our last, we sought to report fairly and accurately the facts that could be established from available evidence, the perspectives of all of the participants, and the comments of the responsible church and school officials,” The Post said through a spokesperson.
The Sandmann family plans to appeal Bertelsman’s ruling, according to a statement sent to The Enquirer by Nick’s attorneys, Todd McMurtry and L. Lin Wood.
In his opinion, Judge William O. Bertelsman wrote the Post could not be found guilty of defamation for reporting on the January 18 interaction, for quoting Native American activists’ description of it or for using subjective terms such as “mocking” and “taunting” to describe the behavior of the Covington Catholic students involved. In a defamation suit, he wrote, the claims at issue must be provably false — not matters of opinion or subjective interpretation.
“These are purely questions of law that bear no relation to the degree of public interest in the underlying events or the political motivations that some have attributed to them,” Bertelsman added.
On Jan. 18, 16-year-old Sandmann was among a group of Covington Catholic students who had participated in the anti-abortion March for Life that afternoon and were waiting for their buses near the Lincoln Memorial. While they waited, members of a fringe religious group called the Black Hebrew Israelites began shouting racial and religious taunts at the students.
The Black Hebrew Israelites’ recording of the interaction shows the Native American activists arrived later, after the Covington Catholic students began a series of school spirit chants intended to drown out the Israelites.
The activists were participating in the Indigenous Peoples March, an event intended to draw attention to native issues in the United States. One of them, 65-year-old Omaha tribe member Nathan Phillips, would later tell the news outlets he saw the interaction between the Israelites and students as a confrontation nearing a boiling point.
Singing and playing a drum, he approached Sandmann, who was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap. Sandmann didn’t move. Phillips would later say he felt threatened and surrounded; Sandmann, in turn, said he had been trying to convey an air of calm, not to intimidate.
The interaction ended within minutes, but short videos later uploaded to social networks turned it into a conversational flashpoint across the country. The image of red-hatted Sandmann face-to-face with Phillips, screencapped from a video posted by a participant in the Indigenous Peoples March, could be interpreted to reinforce a wide variety of political beliefs.