Judge tosses pro-abortion Notre Dame professor’s lawsuit against student newspaper

The judge said "the allegedly defamatory statements" made by the Rover had been printed "in the furtherance of the defendant's right to free speech."

A superior court judge last week dismissed a lawsuit brought by a University of Notre Dame professor against the student newspaper. (Unsplash)

(LifeSiteNews) — A superior court judge last week dismissed a lawsuit brought by a University of Notre Dame professor against the student newspaper after they reported on the educator’s pro-abortion advocacy that conflicts with Catholic moral teaching.

Justice Steven David with the St. Joseph County Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit on Jan. 8. The judge said in his ruling that Notre Dame’s student-run campus newspaper, The Irish Rover, had not committed defamation in its reporting on abortion advocacy by the plaintiff, Notre Dame Professor Tamara Kay.

“The Court concludes that Dr. Kay does not present any evidence that shows that The Irish Rover had any doubts about the truth of their statements before they were published,” David wrote. “By failing to present such evidence, the Court concludes that Dr. Kay’s defamation claim fails as a matter of law.”

The ruling further declared that Professor Kay, who teaches sociology at the prestigious Catholic university, could not publicly advocate for abortion either on or off campus “and expect that it will not become newsworthy at Notre Dame and elsewhere.”

The judge added that “the allegedly defamatory statements” made by the Rover had been printed “in the furtherance of the defendant’s right to free speech, were made in connection with a public issue,” and “were made with good faith and with a reasonable basis in law and fact.” Accordingly, he denied Kay’s request for punitive damages.

The decision comes after Kay argued in her June 2023 lawsuit that the student newspaper had acted “with malice, wanton and willful misconduct and a reckless disregard for the truth all with the intent to damage and negatively impact the Plaintiff” when it published articles in 2022 and 2023 spotlighting Kay’s public support for abortion, The Irish Rover noted in a January 8 article on the dismissal of the lawsuit.

In the article, attributed to the Rover’s editorial staff, the student paper argued that Kay had “attempted to silence and intimidate undergraduate students at her own university for accurate reporting on her public comments,” and expressed “hope that this ruling will serve to discourage such efforts to chill free speech in the future and invigorate others to courageously exercise their right to freedom of speech in pursuit of the truth.”

“The Rover will not apologize for just and truthful reporting that helps Our Lady’s University stay true to its Catholic mission,” the newspaper’s editors said, reaffirming a statement on the matter released in July.

In a prepared statement shared with the Associated Press, former Rover editor-in-chief W. Joseph DeReuil said he was grateful for the court’s ruling that, he said, affirms “what we at the Irish Rover were sure of all along: our reporting was completely factual and written in good faith.”

One of the nation’s most prominent Catholic universities, Notre Dame has drawn criticism from Catholics over the years for some of its decisions that critics have argued cut against its religious identity, including hosting pro-abortion public figures like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Barack Obama, and Joe Biden.

Late last year, the university sparked outrage when news emerged that the Notre Dame Department of Film, Television, and Theatre would be co-sponsoring a drag show.

Then-editor of The Irish Rover Nico Schmitz pushed back against the event in an article published by the newspaper in October, arguing that the school was “permitting irreparable damage to its community and image” by “supporting lies about the human person — lies that say men can be women and that a minstrel show of femininity is a legitimate art form.”

“This performance is not hosted by a fringe part of the university,” he pointed out. He called on “[s]tudents, faculty, and staff who care about preserving Notre Dame as an authentically Catholic institution” to “make their voices heard on the matter.”


Ashley Sadler

Ashley Sadler is a California-based journalist for LifeSiteNews. She has a deep love of American history and the Traditional Latin Mass. In her free time she enjoys mountain-biking, taking road trips, and reading classic literature. You can follow on her on Twitter @asadler216