Federal Judge William Watkins of Alabama’s Middle District has allowed a defamation lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to move forward after the group labeled a Georgia-based immigration law enforcement organization an “anti-immigrant hate group.”

The Dustin Inman Society, which describes itself as an organization with a mission of “promoting the enforcement of immigration laws in the United States,” says the SPLC’s description of their organization as a “hate group” is defamatory and exposes them to an increased risk of violence.

“We’ve overcome what I am told is the biggest and most often interjected hurdle when people try to fight back against the well-funded Southern Poverty Law Center,” says D.A. King, founder and president of the Society.

The SPLC for years has been monitoring what it claims are “hate groups” around the country– and then pitches donors for money to oppose them.

Likening more mainstream organizations to groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the SPLC has maintained its designations are protected under the First Amendment as “non-actionable opinion.” And over the past decade the SPLC has recklessly hurled the label at a variety of conservative and religious organizations.

In 2014 it even labeled Dr. Ben Carson, former U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary, as part of its so-called “Extremist File” but was forced to apologize and retract the designation after intense public criticism. And in 2018 the SPLC also smeared a former Islamic radical named Maajid Nawaz and the Family Research Council as an “extremist” who belonged to a “hate group.” The SPLC ended up paying Nawaz a $3.375 million settlement and issued a public apology.

In this case brought by the Dustin Inman Society, King notes he and his organization are considered public figures for legal purposes, so in order to prove defamation he and the Society must prove “actual malice.” This standard requires plaintiffs to prove intent in their defamation claim. And King says that, since the judge rules his suit may continue, he can enter legal discovery to discern internal SPLC communications (phone calls, texts, emails, etc.) to discover evidence of actual malice.

There’s another interesting twist in this case. Here’s what is posted on the Dustin Inman Society website:

“After telling the Associated Press in 2011 that we were not a ‘hate group,’ the SPLC changed their mind and made us an ‘anti-immigrant hate group’ within days of their registering as active lobbyists against pro-enforcement, immigration-related legislation here in the Georgia Capitol.” And King says that false designation undermined him in the media and his lobbying effort with Georgia state legislators.

For more information on the case and the Dustin Inman Society click onto this link: https://www.gofundme.com/f/please-help-us-fight-the-splc

Login

Lost your password?