Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s Lawsuit Against New York Times Delayed as She Tests Positive for Covid

Former Alaska Governor and the Republican candidate for vice-president in 2008​, Sarah Palin, tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend and puts on hold the start of her libel suit against the New York Times that was to begin Monday.

Federal Judge Rakoff said at the outset of the day’s hearing that he was informed over the weekend that Palin tested positive three times for the coronavirus. The judge then said, “She is, of course, unvaccinated,” announcing the three Palin tests came back positive for the Virus.

Federal Judge Jed Rakoff said, “The trial, which had been set to start today (Monday,) can begin February 3 if Palin has recovered.” Rakoff pushed the jury selection back until at least February 3 but warned the delay could extend further.

Palin has urged people not to get vaccinated, and last month (December), she told an audience in Arizona that “It will be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot. I think if enough of us rise up and say, ‘No, enough is enough,’ there are more of us than there are of them.” She previously tested positive for Covid-19 in March of 2021.

Palin, 57, filed a suit against the Times in 2017 over an editorial that falsely tied her political activities to the 2011 shooting that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and killed six people.  Palin’s suit claims the newspaper damaged her reputation with an opinion piece penned by its editorial board falsely asserted her political rhetoric helped incite the 2011 shooting.

Palin sued less than 2 weeks after the editorial was first published, though the case has stretched on for years due to pandemic-related delays and legal wrangling. The case is being closely watched by media advocates for its potential ramifications on the First Amendment and the legal protections extended to journalists and others.​

The newspaper corrected the editorial to say that no such connection was ever established, and the Times acknowledged it mischaracterized a map put out by Palin’s political action committee that had crosshairs placed over the districts of 20 Democrats, including Giffords’ district.

Rakoff, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, previously presided over Palin’s lawsuit in 2017, and dismissed the lawsuit, but that was overturned by an appellate court panel two years later.

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