Court tosses lawsuit over articles on lawyer’s neo-Nazi ties

Jul 12, 2021, 2:40 PM | Updated: 4:42 pm

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit in which a Baltimore attorney accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of defaming him in articles highlighting his ties to a neo-Nazi group.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected Glen K. Allen’s claim that his membership in the National Alliance, once the nation’s largest neo-Nazi group, wasn’t a matter of public concern.

The panel noted that Allen was involved in a white supremacist organization while he was defending the city of Baltimore against a lawsuit brought by a Black man who claimed he was wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 19 years in prison.

The city fired him as an attorney for its law department after the Alabama-based SPLC published an August 2016 article that described Allen as a “well-known neo-Nazi lawyer” and noted his work on the Black man’s lawsuit. The article also included copies of receipts for Allen’s National Alliance dues payments and presented evidence of his attendance at a “Holocaust Revisionist Conference.”

In 2017, the law center published a “hate map” that included a photograph of Allen bearing the caption, “Exposing Racists Who Infiltrate Public Institutions.”

Allen sued the law center and two of its former employees, Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok, in 2018. He appealed after U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake in Maryland threw out the case in 2019.

The 4th Circuit judges concluded that the First Amendment protected the law center’s publication of information about Allen from documents that it obtained from a former National Alliance accountant who secretly scanned the records.

Allen claimed the accountant sold the documents to the SPLC for more than $5,000 and that the law center knew the documents were stolen when it bought them. The appeals court rejected his claim that the SPLC illegally interfered with a confidentiality agreement between the accountant and the National Alliance.

The appeals court panel agreed with Blake that Allen could not challenge the SPLC’s tax-exempt status in the Maryland district court. His lawsuit against the SPLC also included racketeering claims that the 4th Circuit rejected.

The panel also rejected Allen’s claim that the SPLC misused its tax-exempt status to raise money and reach a wide audiences for its publications, including the articles about him.

“This proposed causal link between Allen’s injury and the SPLC’s tax burden is tenuous at best,” 4th Circuit Judge Barbara Milano Keenan wrote.

Allen said in an email Monday that he is disappointed in the decision. He said the issues raised in his lawsuit “are important ones, especially in our increasingly polarized society, and merited more than a superficial unpublished opinion.”

In his appeal, Allen said his defamation claim does not depend on the SPLC’s description of him as a “neo-Nazi” or a “racist.” But he argued that the SPLC falsely accused him of being unethical and incompetent as an attorney by describing him as “infiltrat(ing)” the city’s law department. The appeals court panel concluded that the challenged statement was “non-actionable hyperbole.”

Allen said he and his attorney haven’t decided whether to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

Other organizations and individuals have sued the SPLC over its articles about far-right extremism and its “hate group” labels.

In 2019, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., dismissed a lawsuit that accused law center leaders of trying to financially destroy the Center for Immigration Studies by labeling it as a hate group. In 2018, a federal judge in Virginia ruled that the First Amendment protected a charity tracking website’s use of the law center’s hate group labels.

The founder of the far-right Proud Boys sued the law center in February 2019 for labeling the organization as a hate group. That federal case is still pending in Alabama and has remained dormant since November 2019.

In 2018, the law center apologized to a London-based group, Quilliam, and its founder, Maajid Nawaz, and agreed to pay $3.4 million in an out-of-court settlement after labeling them as anti-Muslim extremists.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


A Ukrainian serviceman changes his position at the frontline near Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Saturday, Ju...
Associated Press

Governor: Russians gaining foothold in pivotal Ukraine city

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces are strengthening their positions in a grueling fight to capture the last stronghold of resistance in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk province, the region’s governor said Sunday. Ukrainian fighters have spent weeks trying to defend the city of Lysychansk, and to keep it from falling to Russia, as neighboring Sievierodonetsk did […]
1 hour ago
Associated Press

North Texas shooter kills 2, wounds 3 cops, takes own life

HALTOM CITY, Texas (AP) — A gunman killed two people and wounded four others, including three police officers, before taking his own life Saturday evening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, police said. Haltom City Police Det. Matt Spillane said early Sunday that all of those wounded in the shooting in a residential neighborhood had non-life […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011 file photo, Associated Press Special Regional Correspondent f...
Associated Press

Hope and despair: Kathy Gannon on 35 years in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan policeman opened fire on us with his AK-47, emptying 26 bullets into the back of the car. Seven slammed into me, and at least as many into my colleague, Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus. She died at my side. Anja weighed heavy against my shoulder. I tried to look […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this Monday, Nov. 18, 2019 file photo, the logo of Google is displayed on a carpet at the...
Associated Press

Google to erase more location info as abortion bans expand

Google will automatically purge information about users who visit abortion clinics or other places that could trigger legal problems now that the U.S. Supreme Court has opened the door for states to ban the termination of pregnancies.
1 day ago
FILE - President Joe Biden, center, meets with South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, and Jap...
Associated Press

North Korea slams US-South Korea-Japan military cooperation

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Sunday slammed the United States, South Korea and Japan for pushing to boost their trilateral military cooperation targeting the North, warning that the move is prompting urgent calls for the country to reinforce its military capability. North Korea has long cited what it calls hostility by the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, second from left, stands during a news conference...
Associated Press

Uvalde schools’ police chief resigns from City Council

The Uvalde school district’s police chief has stepped down from his position in the City Council just weeks after being sworn in following allegations that he erred in his response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead. Chief Pete Arredondo said in a letter dated Friday […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Court tosses lawsuit over articles on lawyer’s neo-Nazi ties