Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is one versatile individual. He proved his mastery of psychoanalysis when he diagnosed TEA Partiers as products of dysfunctional families. He’s now issuing free legal advice to Sandra Fluke, urging her to sue Rush Limbaugh for “slander, libel, and whatever else might be involved.”

A dangerous precedent is established when politicians openly promote lawsuits between citizens. Such use of governmental influence belies a nation where everyone is equal before the law and drives an unnecessary wedge between the populace. Legally, Hoyer isn’t prohibited from supporting Fluke. But ethically he should refrain from encouraging civil litigation. He violated the public’s trust, compromised a potential lawsuit’s integrity, and possibly led Sandra Fluke astray.

Hoyer’s open hubris doesn’t mean a defamation suit has no merit. Libel attorneys have outlined two reasons why Sandra is on solid legal ground. She’s a private citizen victimized publicly by a powerful figure. Also, Limbaugh’s disparaging remarks about her sex life “embedded false statements of fact.” But there are also flaws in this reasoning that could make litigation a risky path for Ms. Fluke.

Is Sandra indeed a private citizen? When an activist publicly presents their opinions as expert testimony before Congress in the attempt to influence a legislative outcome, they become part of the debate. Sandra isn’t a public figure in the same sense as Hoyer, or famous like Limbaugh. Yet her public activism makes her a public figure. Therefore, she cannot hide from criticism.

What about the insults? Being a public figure doesn’t mean it’s open season for character assassination. However, a libel suit could be Sandra Fluke’s undoing. Instigating legal action entails the possibility of actually litigating. Settling for a cool million from the well-heeled Limbaugh would be a smart move. But taking her case to civil court where sworn testimony is presented opens a can of worms. Sandra Fluke’s background becomes fair game in court, including her sex life. Don’t think the Limbaugh defense team wouldn’t try to prove Sandra the biggest tramp since Mata Hari.

Limbaugh can afford the highest flying legal eagles money can buy. They’ll peek in every closet; look under every rock. Fluke’s classmates, friends, and lovers — from high school until now — will be interviewed. The most damaging will be called as witnesses for the defense. If Sandra Fluke is the least bit promiscuous we’ll learn every intimate detail, right down to her favorite acts and positions.

Public opinion favors Sandra today. But that goodwill disappears if court testimony proves her everything Limbaugh said she was. Her lawsuit will be lost, the potential windfall of an out-of-court settlement gone, and her public reputation legitimately besmirched. 

That’s the risk Sandra Fluke runs if she takes Hoyer’s legal advice. Suing Limbaugh for libel and losing makes her appear even worse than Rush portrayed her. Maybe she should then sue Hoyer for bad legal advice, and for attempting to build his political capitol at her expense.

Comments

  • Gururussell

    “Litigation is risky for Sandra Fluke”

    Going by what she stated in her testimony, it probably wouldn’t be the first time that she has engaged in risky activity.

    • Anonymous

      Nice.

  • Gururussell

    “Litigation is risky for Sandra Fluke”

    Going by what she stated in her testimony, it probably wouldn’t be the first time that she has engaged in risky activity.

    • Anonymous

      Nice.

  • Anonymous

    What a perfect moment to shed a high-powered halogen light onto this situation. Its healthcare related, government subsidy related, & social mores related. It will only hurt the O-bomb by the time all is dredged out of the woodwork, so it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.

  • Anonymous

    What a perfect moment to shed a high-powered halogen light onto this situation. Its healthcare related, government subsidy related, & social mores related. It will only hurt the O-bomb by the time all is dredged out of the woodwork, so it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.

  • Ayatollah Santorum

    That Sandra Fluke isn’t fit to fetch Rush is painkiller meds or his Thai servant boys.

    • Anonymous

      Classy.

  • Ayatollah Santorum

    That Sandra Fluke isn’t fit to fetch Rush is painkiller meds or his Thai servant boys.

    • Anonymous

      Classy.

  • Teknonerd

    Rush made an OBJECTIVE statement based on the facts that Fluke herself gave. FACT: She constantly has sex.  FACT: She wants the fed to give her money so she may buy contraceptives to have sex.   With those two facts and a dictionary in hand Rush was correct in defining her as “a slut” (one who is promiscuous in sex) and “a prostitute” (one who get’s paid for having sex).  What’s the problem?  Fluke established the criteria.  Rush just happened to have his Funk & Wagnalls dictionary close at hand.

    • Anonymous

      The problem is Rush’s attemp to be clever backfired on him, the issue, and the Republican Party. His point about expecting the fed to pay for people’s sex life was valid, but that message was lost.

    • Steve M.

      Anthony is correct. The idea of litigation is assinine and Hoyer should have just kept his mouth shut. I think it was an off-the-cuff comment that sort of grew more legs than Hoyer would have liked.
      But Teknonerd … are you serious? Your facts aren’t even right, yet alone your conclusions. She did not want “the fed” to give her money for anything; she was arguing that a private insurance plan that she pays for be required to provide something that would result in lower premiums. Also, you might want to learn the definition of “promiscuous” — which means significantly more than “constantly.” Alos, I’m still not sure how arguing for something to be covered by private medical insurance is the equivalent of “One who get’s [sic] paid for having sex.”
      Just admit that Rush, as he is prone to do, overstated something, used some inflamatory language and it came back to bite him.

      • Anonymous

        You are 100% correct about Rush’s comments.

        The problem I have with liberals like Fluke is that they want to require the insurance providers to cover everything and anything and then the rest of us are forced to pay extremely outrageous monthly premiums for insurance. Toothpaste is a health benefit. Perhaps they should be required to pay for that as weel, along with floss and mouthwash. Just because something can be deemed preventative does not mean it should be paid for by the insurance company.

        Imagine the cost of our auto insurance if congress forced them to pay for wiper blades, oil changes, tune ups, new tires, spark plugs, fuel cleaners, car washes, window liquids, anti freeze, and etc. etc. Insurance should be for extremely expensive occurrences where the policy owner has the “insurance” that they can get treated and not lose everything. But, since we demand them to pay for every minor office visit, every minor procedure, and now every minor sexual interaction, we can most assuredly expect the cost of that insurance to continue to rise.

        It would not be a stretch to assume that Fluke probably supports national health care, is it? I am sure anything she believes should be covered by “private” insurance she also believes she be covered by national insurance. So to infer that she would be for government funded contraception is a quite plausible inference.

        • Steve M.

          Brian, I don’t disagree with any of your points about health insurance coverage but Ms. Fluke does, and has a right to express that opinion (and was asked to express it before Congress) without being insulted with lies and assumptions.
          I don’t know Ms. Fluke’s thoughts on National Health Care (whether she supports it or what she believes it should cover) and I don’t think it’s fair to make any assumptions about those beliefs and then make unfounded (even if those assumptions are true) attacks based on those assumptions.

          • Anonymous

            I never made any attacks, I said I agree with your comments about Rush 100%.

            I think it is completely fair to make assumptions. She is a staunch Democrat and to assume she supports national health care is not a stretch.

            Do you not agree that her position on contraception is one of the many examples why our preimiums are through the roof?

            • Steve M.

              I do actually disagree on that specific point — I’ve looked into this quite extensively and it appears that plans that cover birth control tend to have lower premiums than those that don’t (which is almsot certainly swayed by which organizations use these plans, etc.). Most of the analysis seems to be based on the risks of pregnancy and higher rate of pregnancy in participants in plans without contraception coverage.
              Nonetheless, that is just being nit-picky. I agree that the idea of covering every Advil, just like covering every oil change, is contrary to the idea of insurance and contributes, on the whole, to the increase in medical expense. I am a big proponent of High Deductible insurance, where I put (tax deferred) money into my own HSA, I pay for regular doctors visits (at the group rate, the insurance company would pay), etc., I pay a lower premium and if I don’t use all of my HSA money, I can pay the taxes on it and use it for something else or I can let it sit and use it for next year. I think this is the way Health Insurance should work, by and large.

              • Anonymous

                I agree, 100%. You may be right about the reduced costs for having a contraception benefit, however, it should not be the federal government who mandates this. When we get into the Feds mandating what is covered it quickly spirals into mandating things that will raise rates.  I also agree on the high deductible insurance.

  • Teknonerd

    Rush made an OBJECTIVE statement based on the facts that Fluke herself gave. FACT: She constantly has sex.  FACT: She wants the fed to give her money so she may buy contraceptives to have sex.   With those two facts and a dictionary in hand Rush was correct in defining her as “a slut” (one who is promiscuous in sex) and “a prostitute” (one who get’s paid for having sex).  What’s the problem?  Fluke established the criteria.  Rush just happened to have his Funk & Wagnalls dictionary close at hand.

    • Anonymous

      The problem is Rush’s attemp to be clever backfired on him, the issue, and the Republican Party. His point about expecting the fed to pay for people’s sex life was valid, but that message was lost.

    • Steve M.

      Anthony is correct. The idea of litigation is assinine and Hoyer should have just kept his mouth shut. I think it was an off-the-cuff comment that sort of grew more legs than Hoyer would have liked.
      But Teknonerd … are you serious? Your facts aren’t even right, yet alone your conclusions. She did not want “the fed” to give her money for anything; she was arguing that a private insurance plan that she pays for be required to provide something that would result in lower premiums. Also, you might want to learn the definition of “promiscuous” — which means significantly more than “constantly.” Alos, I’m still not sure how arguing for something to be covered by private medical insurance is the equivalent of “One who get’s [sic] paid for having sex.”
      Just admit that Rush, as he is prone to do, overstated something, used some inflamatory language and it came back to bite him.

      • Anonymous

        You are 100% correct about Rush’s comments.

        The problem I have with liberals like Fluke is that they want to require the insurance providers to cover everything and anything and then the rest of us are forced to pay extremely outrageous monthly premiums for insurance. Toothpaste is a health benefit. Perhaps they should be required to pay for that as weel, along with floss and mouthwash. Just because something can be deemed preventative does not mean it should be paid for by the insurance company.

        Imagine the cost of our auto insurance if congress forced them to pay for wiper blades, oil changes, tune ups, new tires, spark plugs, fuel cleaners, car washes, window liquids, anti freeze, and etc. etc. Insurance should be for extremely expensive occurrences where the policy owner has the “insurance” that they can get treated and not lose everything. But, since we demand them to pay for every minor office visit, every minor procedure, and now every minor sexual interaction, we can most assuredly expect the cost of that insurance to continue to rise.

        It would not be a stretch to assume that Fluke probably supports national health care, is it? I am sure anything she believes should be covered by “private” insurance she also believes she be covered by national insurance. So to infer that she would be for government funded contraception is a quite plausible inference.

        • Steve M.

          Brian, I don’t disagree with any of your points about health insurance coverage but Ms. Fluke does, and has a right to express that opinion (and was asked to express it before Congress) without being insulted with lies and assumptions.
          I don’t know Ms. Fluke’s thoughts on National Health Care (whether she supports it or what she believes it should cover) and I don’t think it’s fair to make any assumptions about those beliefs and then make unfounded (even if those assumptions are true) attacks based on those assumptions.

          • Anonymous

            I never made any attacks, I said I agree with your comments about Rush 100%.

            I think it is completely fair to make assumptions. She is a staunch Democrat and to assume she supports national health care is not a stretch.

            Do you not agree that her position on contraception is one of the many examples why our preimiums are through the roof?

            • Steve M.

              I do actually disagree on that specific point — I’ve looked into this quite extensively and it appears that plans that cover birth control tend to have lower premiums than those that don’t (which is almsot certainly swayed by which organizations use these plans, etc.). Most of the analysis seems to be based on the risks of pregnancy and higher rate of pregnancy in participants in plans without contraception coverage.
              Nonetheless, that is just being nit-picky. I agree that the idea of covering every Advil, just like covering every oil change, is contrary to the idea of insurance and contributes, on the whole, to the increase in medical expense. I am a big proponent of High Deductible insurance, where I put (tax deferred) money into my own HSA, I pay for regular doctors visits (at the group rate, the insurance company would pay), etc., I pay a lower premium and if I don’t use all of my HSA money, I can pay the taxes on it and use it for something else or I can let it sit and use it for next year. I think this is the way Health Insurance should work, by and large.

              • Anonymous

                I agree, 100%. You may be right about the reduced costs for having a contraception benefit, however, it should not be the federal government who mandates this. When we get into the Feds mandating what is covered it quickly spirals into mandating things that will raise rates.  I also agree on the high deductible insurance.

  • Anonymous

    Besides, the White House doesn’t want it broadcast that one of their own is behind the whole diversion tactic.

  • Anonymous

    Besides, the White House doesn’t want it broadcast that one of their own is behind the whole diversion tactic.

  • Anonymous

    Slander is an almost impossible lawsuit to win in court. First of all it is my understanding that one must prove their has been specific financial harm done. Not sure where she can demonstrate such.

    The left won this round and forces Rush to make a rare public apology. But, like the left most often does, they always overplay their hand. If they try to push this into litigation or if Gloria Allred gets involved, the left will soon regret such strategery. 

  • Anonymous

    Slander is an almost impossible lawsuit to win in court. First of all it is my understanding that one must prove their has been specific financial harm done. Not sure where she can demonstrate such.

    The left won this round and forces Rush to make a rare public apology. But, like the left most often does, they always overplay their hand. If they try to push this into litigation or if Gloria Allred gets involved, the left will soon regret such strategery.