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Update on the 60 Separate Defamation Lawsuits Against the SPLC Under Consideration

Southern Poverty Law Center Hate Map

Leaders of Christian organizations the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) unfairly labels as "hate groups" told PJ Media that a massive legal onslaught is headed toward the SPLC — and it could involve as many as sixty separate lawsuits in different states around the country. Rather than one big defamation lawsuit, the left-wing attack dog will face a scattershot approach.

"What we're considering is not a class-action lawsuit," Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Christian nonprofit branded a "hate group" by the SPLC and currently suing the charity navigation site GuideStar, told PJ Media on Monday. "These are individual lawsuits that we're looking at, not class action."

He explained that the roughly 60 organizations considering the suit intend to "make the SPLC defend itself all over the country."

"The people we're talking to are looking at individual lawsuits — could be up to sixty but definitely quite a number of cases," Staver explained.

In June, the SPLC settled a defamation lawsuit from Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim reformer the group had defamed as an "anti-Muslim extremist." The leftist smear factory paid $3.375 million to Nawaz's anti-terrorism nonprofit, Quilliam International. That case was particularly egregious, as the SPLC called Nawaz an "extremist" for, among other things, going to a strip club on his bachelor party.

After the Nawaz settlement, Staver told PJ Media that "about 60 organizations" "have been considering filing lawsuits against the SPLC, because they have been doing to a lot of organizations exactly what they did to Maajid Nawaz."

PJ Media followed up, asking why the lawsuits have not yet been filed.

Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel and vice president of U.S. Advocacy and Administration at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), suggested that the organizations may be waiting for the outcome of other cases currently making their way through the courts. Some of these cases may test whether or not the leftist smear group can get away with defamation by claiming their "hate group" labels are merely a matter of opinion.

"What the SPLC does and what makes them so dangerous is that when they get sued they go to court and say, 'You can't sue us, it's just opinion,'" Tedesco explained. "But they know full well that everybody looks at their hate group list as fact. They treat it as fact, they like having these corporations listen to them." He noted that news organizations and companies like Amazon have "blindly accepted" the SPLC's "hate group" label against ADF. Amazon removed ADF from its Amazon Smile charity program due to the label.

"The SPLC loves it when others treat it like a fact and they treat it like a fact, but when they go to court they say it's just an opinion," the lawyer added.