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Pro-abortion Notre Dame professor loses defamation lawsuit against student newspaper

‘Dr. Kay’s defamation claim fails and the statements in the Articles were lawful,’ judge rules

A pro-abortion University of Notre Dame professor lost her lawsuit against the conservative Irish Rover, a student publication.

Professor Tamara Kay originally sued the Rover last May, claiming it defamed her and misrepresented her quotes. The National Review, however, reviewed audio and largely confirmed the accuracy of the quotes, though there was some deviation. She (pictured) teaches sociology at the Catholic university and supports abortion.

A state judge ruled in favor of the publication on Monday. The Rover argued Kay’s lawsuit violated the state’s “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation” law.

St. Joseph County Judge Steven David wrote:

Because the Court has found that the alleged defamatory statements were true, within the meaning of the law, not made with actual malice, did not contain a defamatory inference, and there were no damages that were causally linked to The Irish Rover Articles, Dr. Kay’s defamation claim fails and the statements in the Articles were 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.

The court found Kay had a history of “advocating abortion legalization,” including through her social media and published commentary in newspapers and academic journals. Therefore, she “has intentionally placed herself into the national discussion on abortion,” Judge David wrote.

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.

Judge David wrote:

The Court finds that the “J” on Dr. Kay’s door, particularly when read in context with the other words and statements on her door, and her statements and tweets and work that was being done contemporaneous to this relevant time, can most reasonably mean to infer something much broader than just being an advocate for victims of sexual assault but was being used, in conjunction with the other statements on the door, and her other statements, tweets, writings and social media, to identify her as one who is “willing to help students access abortions,” including abortion pills, as well as assist victims of sexual violence

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.”

Kay tried to ‘chill free speech,’ editorial board says

The editorial staff for the Rover celebrated the decision.

“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,” it 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.”

Kay declined to comment when asked by The Observer, Notre Dame’s student newspaper.

While Catholic, the university has regularly allowed pro-abortion and pro-LGBT events to flourish on campus, despite the Catholic Church’s opposition to those beliefs and practices. The university allowed an “abortion doula” event and also let a professor host a drag show on campus.

Both events drew rebukes from Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who oversees the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, which includes Notre Dame.

Not surprisingly, inviting an abortion doula to provide an unrebutted case for abortion has prompted a great deal of concern and criticism around the country and in our diocese,” the bishop wrote in March 2023. “I share these concerns and consider the decision to feature such a speaker on campus to be both intellectually unserious and unworthy of a great Catholic research university.”

MORE: Harvard ‘misinformation’ journal sued for defamation

IMAGES: University of Notre Dame

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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.