Former Rep. Bob Barr is trying to revive a $30 million defamation suit against former President Clinton, Democratic political adviser James Carville and pornographer Larry Flynt.
The Georgia Republican alleges the three conspired to smear him by publishing embarrassing information about his private life in Flynt’s Hustler magazine as retaliation for his outspoken role in the impeachment proceedings against Clinton.
The arguments Monday in front of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit focused on whether Barr had met a deadline to file his case. A lower federal court had dismissed the case in March 2003, ruling the alleged conspiracy occurred more than the allowable three years before Barr brought the lawsuit in 2002.
Barr’s attorneys argued the 1999 publication of the article in Hustler was within the three years, but the alleged conspiracy they claim would have occurred earlier. Barr didn’t know everything that was going on until he saw the article in print, they said.
Clinton’s attorney, Suzanne Woods, cautioned the judges not to award a defamation prize based on how factual information was obtained, saying it would create a “very large loophole” for public officials to file more defamation claims against media outlets.
Carville’s attorney, William Alden McDaniel Jr., has called the allegations against his client “absolute horse manure.”
“They don’t have one shred of evidence James Carville ever saw any FBI file,” McDaniel said. “These people are delusional.”
Thrice-married Mr. Barr, as you will recall, was one of the sponsors of the Defense of Marriage Act. Sometimes irony goes way beyond lightspeed into a cosmic plane.