O’Connor’s lawyers had argued to have the case dismissed under a District of Columbia statute that aims to prevent the silencing of critics through lawsuits. The statute is called anti-SLAPP, or “strategic lawsuit against public participation.”
A federal district court judge rejected their motion to dismiss, citing timing and jurisdictional issues, prompting the appeal. The appeals court affirmed that O’Connor’s lawyers missed the deadline for filing the dismissal request.
In March arguments, the lawyers told the court of appeals that O’Connor and Breitbart, before he died, stood by the content, saying the blog post was opinion.
“What happened here is what happens in journalism every day,” said Bruce Brown, a lawyer for O’Connor.
Sherrod’s lawyers disagreed and said dismissal under the District of Columbia statute would violate their right to a trial.
The case has been closely watched as a test of the District of Columbia’s anti-SLAPP statute.