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Notre Dame journalists seek nearly $178,000 in attorney fees from pro-abortion professor

Conservative publication defeated defamation lawsuit from Professor Tamara Kay

Student journalists for the conservative Irish Rover defeated a defamation suit from a pro-abortion professor – now they want her to fork over $177,928.30 in attorney fees.

The conservative publication defeated Professor Tamara Kay on Jan. 8, and under Indiana’s Anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation law it could be entitled to legal fees. It filed a motion on Jan. 26 and a judge set a hearing date for March 11.

“The Anti-SLAPP law also requires the person who filed the meritless suit to pay the attorney’s fees for the defendant,” attorney James Bopp, who represented the student newspaper, posted on his law firm’s website. “That is exactly what happened to The Irish Rover and is why the court dismissed Dr. Kay’s lawsuit. Now, Dr. Kay will be obligated to pay The Irish Rover’s attorney’s fees.”

“Indiana’s Anti-SLAPP law provides a way for defendants who are accused of defamation without any basis in law and fact to recoup their attorney fees and is intended to be a deterrent for people bringing these types of frivolous cases,” Bopp stated. “My firm concentrates on defending First Amendment rights—we were happy to defend The Irish Rover’s right to free speech in this case.”

Kay had accused the student newspaper of defaming her and misrepresenting her advocacy following the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The Fix previously reported:

Kay argued that her statements, including a sign she posted on her door that said she could help with “healthcare,” were about abortion, not helping people who had been sexually assaulted, as she claimed. Her poster included a “J” with a circle around it, understood by some on campus, according to the judge, to refer to support for abortion…

…One of the defamation claims Kay made was that the Rover falsely asserted she was “Help[ing] Students Obtain Abortions.”

Judge David wrote the article made clear Kay was doing so through “her personal social media.” He wrote the headline “was not unreasonable given all of the facts of this case.”

The editorial staff of the Rover previously celebrated the ruling in its favor.

“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 board wrote after the decision. “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.”

Kay’s advocacy is just part of a series of high-profile clashes on campus between conservative students and professors who promote ideas contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Last fall, Notre Dame women, along with alumni and other students, criticized a drag show held on campus as part of a class.

“This event is not for the sake of study or dialogue; it is not the result of a faculty or students’ research; it is not for the sake of academic inquiry,” the students wrote. “Three male ‘artists’ are being paid to parade around in provocative women’s clothing under the guise of ‘self-expression’ and ‘bodily autonomy.’ If this is academic freedom, then the phrase is meaningless. Academic freedom should not be used as a weapon of opinionized activism.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Gerry Olinger, defended allowing the event happened on academic freedom grounds. Olinger, a Catholic priest, has faced criticism from the Sycamore Trust, a conservative alumni group, for appearing to endorse homosexual relationships and transgenderism in an official university video.

Professors also hosted a transgender “abortion doula” on campus. Both that event and the drag show drew rebukes from Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who oversees the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, which includes Notre Dame.

MORE: Notre Dame students praised by fellow journalists for taking on Tamara Kay

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Matt has previously worked at Students for Life of America, Students for Life Action and Turning Point USA. While in college, he wrote for The College Fix as well as his college newspaper, The Loyola Phoenix. He holds a B.A. from Loyola University-Chicago and an M.A. from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He lives in northwest Indiana with his family.