BOOM: Federal Court Tosses Liberty Counsel’s “Hate Group” Designation Suit Against Charity Rating Site

The Chronicle Of Philanthropy reports:

GuideStar, the charity-information site, scored a major victory as a federal court ruled it was in legal bounds to put a hate label on a nonprofit’s profile. A federal judge in Virginia dismissed a lawsuit against GuideStar pursued by the conservative Christian legal-defense group Liberty Counsel.

Judge Raymond Jackson of the Federal District Court in Norfolk, Va., however, said the designation was “an informative statement” and “not commercial speech” in his ruling— and rejected Liberty Council’s claim that its business was affected. Mr. Jackson also dismissed the legal group’s defamation claim.

The nonprofit information site said it backed away from the labels after its staff members had faced threats to their personal safety from opponents of the labels.

Liberty Counsel reacts:

“Despite GuideStar’s admission that it was seeking to influence the purchasing decisions of its constituents and the general public, the court without much analysis ruled such a goal is not commercial in nature,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

“The GuideStar publication was designed to inflict financial harm because its purpose was to affect the financial transactions of the public. The SPLC false label has become discredited and it has proven to be dangerous as history has shown with the attack against Family Research Council. This false label applied to non-violent and law-abiding groups must stop,” said Staver. Liberty Counsel is considering an appeal of the decision.