Leftist media attempt to smear Justice Barrett with report about corporate attorney husband's Fox Corp. client

 June 4, 2024

No longer content to only go after conservative justices on the Supreme Court, like Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, with allegations of ethical violations and recusal demands, leftist activists in the media have now expanded their aim to include other right-leaning jurists like Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

A new report seeks to smear Barrett with implications of impropriety by highlighting how her attorney husband is representing Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News, in a defamation lawsuit, according to leftist outlet The New Republic.

Yet, even that outlet seemed to subtly acknowledge that the attempted smear of Barrett was a stretch, given details like that the case in question involves a local Fox affiliate in Chicago -- not Fox News Channel -- and is highly unlikely to reach the Supreme Court and trigger a possible recusal for the justice.

Surprise! A corporate attorney has corporations as clients

It was Rolling Stone that tried to manufacture an appearance of impropriety and conflicts of interest for Justice Barrett with a report about how her trial lawyer husband, Jesse Barrett, had taken on Fox Corp. as a client and was representing that company in a defamation lawsuit.

Barrett, the founder of Southbank Legal who also relocated the white-collar law firm to Washington D.C. after his wife was confirmed to the Supreme Court, has years of experience defending corporations and individuals, including recently "a prominent media company in a lawsuit alleging defamation."

Per Rolling Stone, that "prominent media company" is Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News, which like all other major media outlets routinely reports on the Supreme Court and its current and pending cases and decisions.

The outlet was particularly aggrieved that the identity of Barrett's new media company client was not publicly disclosed -- it was discovered through a legal filing in the defamation lawsuit -- and strongly implied that, by the association, Justice Barrett was essentially on the Fox News payroll.

The defamation lawsuit at the center of the story

Yet, the details of Rolling Stone's story belied the implications of a scandal, in that while Jesse Barrett's client may be Fox Corp., the reality is that the attorney is defending the local Fox affiliate in Chicago, Illinois, from a defamation lawsuit filed by the target of an investigative report.

The local outlet had issued a series of reports on the 2021 hiring by the mayor of Dolton of a convicted sex offender named Lavell Redmond to be a code enforcement officer, with at least one of those reports alleging that Redmond's job entailed entering homes and businesses in the small village in Cook County.

Redmond filed a $3 million lawsuit and claimed that the local Fox affiliate defamed him with inaccurate reporting about his code enforcement job -- he insisted he never enters any homes or businesses and only inspects exteriors -- that led to his being fired as well as being arrested and charged with violating his sex offender reporting requirements.

In his defense of the local Fox affiliate, Barrett argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the outlet had not defamed Redmond since the "gist" of its reporting about Redmond was "indisputably true" even if "certain immaterial details were inaccurate."

A story in search of a scandal

This non-scandalous non-story by Rolling Stone, and echoed as "disturbing" by The New Republic, provides a thin veneer over the real purpose of the purported exposé -- to smear and delegitimize the Trump-appointed jurist and her corporate defender attorney husband because those leftist activist outlets and reporters disagree with and dislike the Barretts' ideological and religious beliefs.

To its partial credit, The New Republic seemed to acknowledge the exceptionally slim likelihood that attorney Barrett's Fox Corp. lawsuit would reach the level of Justice Barrett and trigger any of the various disqualification and recusal requirements in the Supreme Court's Code of Conduct.

Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis seemed to try to defuse the outrage over the would-be scandal with an X post that said, "Fam, you don't hire the spouse of a Supreme Court justice to represent you in major litigation unless (1) you think they're competent to do so and (2) you don't foresee going to the Supreme Court where the spouse would have to recuse and you might really want/need their vote," and though he later agreed that "disclosure" was important he also pointed out Barrett has "recused several times before" for various reasons.

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