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Judge rules against pro-choice Notre Dame professor who filed lawsuit against conservative student paper

A court ruling shot down a pro-choice Notre Dame professor's defamation lawsuit against a conservative student newspaper reporting on her abortion advocacy.

A pro-choice professor at the University of Notre Dame has lost a defamation lawsuit against a conservative student newspaper that she claimed misrepresented and defamed her.

Tamara Kay, a sociology and global affairs professor, sued "The Irish Rover" in May over two of its articles that she said contained "false and defamatory information," according to a copy of the complaint reviewed by Fox News Digital. The complaint specifically named two student journalists, W. Joseph DeReuil and Luke Thompson.

In response, "The Rover" argued the lawsuit violated the state of Indiana's "Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation" law.

St. Joseph County Judge Steven David ruled against Kay on Monday and wrote that the alleged defamatory statements were, in fact, true, not made with actual malice and did not contain "a defamatory inference," The College Fix reported. Stevens noted there were no damages that could be "causally linked" to the articles in question and the reporting was "lawful."


"The Court concludes that the allegedly defamatory statements were made in the furtherance of the defendant's right to free speech, were made in connection with a public issue, were made with good faith and with a reasonable basis in law and fact," Judge David added.

Kay has shared a number of pro-abortion resources on her Twitter, labeling herself a Notre Dame "abortion rights expert," offering to "help as a private citizen if you have issues w access or cost. DM me [sic]," according to previous social media posts reported on by the Irish Rover.

As such, the court determined Kay had a documented history of "advocating abortion legalization" in public comments, through social media and published commentary, such as newspapers and academic journals.

Such action, the court found, meant that Kay "intentionally placed herself into the national discussion on abortion."

The student newspaper also reported Kay had a sign on her campus office door that read: "This is a SAFE SPACE to get help and information on ALL Healthcare issues and access — confidentially with care and compassion."


On her door, Kay included her non-Notre Dame email, where students could reach her, along with the letter "J." Some suggested that the letter denoted when a Notre Dame professor is willing to help students access abortion, including Plan B, known as the "morning after" pill and "Plan C" abortion pills, which are used to end a pregnancy up to 12 weeks. 

However, Kay claimed it only signaled that she was willing to help victims of sexual assault. 

Judge David, in his ruling, wrote that the letter "J" on the door, when read in the context of other words and statements of Kay's door, as well as statements and tweets she made at the time, could reasonably infer something "much broader" than simple sexual assault victim advocacy. 

He added that it was fair to identify her as an individual "willing to help students access abortions," including abortion pills, and the statement was "not unreasonable given all the facts of this case."


"The Rover" editorial staff celebrated the judge's decision following the verdict. 

"In filing and pursuing this lawsuit over the course of the last year, Kay attempted to silence and intimidate undergraduate students at her own university for accurate reporting on her public comments," the editorial staff wrote on Monday. "We 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."

In a statement to Fox News Digital, the paper said: "We are grateful for the Indiana Anti-SLAPP law that protects individuals from such frivolous suits and strategic intimidation, and we look forward to returning to school next week as students without the worries and pressures of a legal battle. It is appalling that a professor at Notre Dame went after undergraduate students at her own institution, and we hope this situation inspires other faithful students across the country to continue fighting for the pursuit of truth on college campuses."

They also referenced their initial statement on the lawsuit, defending their reporting as "fair and accurate."

Professor Kay did not return Fox News Digital's request for comment. 

Fox News' Kendall Tietz contributed to this report. 

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