A class action lawsuit has just been filed in New York against former U.S. President Jimmy Carter for his 2006 book, “Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid.” The suit, captioned Unterberg et al. v. Jimmy Carter et al., is the latest salvo from the right-wing activist Israel Law Center, which claims to be an “Israeli based civil right organization”.
According to the five individuals named in the complaint, Carter’s book is, “in fact demonstrably false, misleading, and deceptive,” and because they felt they were “sold” on Carter’s book being truthful, well, they felt they’ve been harmed, and in as much, have now sued the publisher Simon & Schuster, and the author, Jimmy Carter for $5 million dollars.
The fantastical nature of this lawsuit reminds me of the “birther” lawsuits, claiming President Obama wasn’t born in America and therefore disqualified to serve as her President.
This case, attempting to gag a Nobel Peace Prize winning former President, is just as absurd—however, the litigants do graciously offer an alternative where there wouldn’t be cause—if President Carter and Simon & Schuster only had promoted and sold the book as “the anti-Israel screed that it is.”
This misplaced pro-Israeli patriotism is a ridiculous waste of the court’s time and probably qualifies as a harassment lawsuit, which may result in the overly zealous parties having to pay Carter’s and Simon & Schuster’s legal fees. You cannot justify use of a state consumer protection statute to attack the US Constitution’s First Amendment protections for the mere publishing and sale of a book. That’s like trying to say a tugboat’s as big as an Aircraft Carrier. You can say it, but it isn’t.
Now, the people suing “wish to be clear” that they’re not suing to challenge President Carter’s right to publish a book, nor his right to “forward his virulently anti-Israeli bias”, but rather, they’re suing because he wrote a non-fiction book and claimed it to be so.
The suit was announced as, “…the first time a former President and a publishing house have been sued for violating consumer protection laws by knowingly publishing inaccurate information while promoting a book as factual.” That puts them out on a limb, for sure.