CV NEWS FEED // Editors at the University of Notre Dame’s student newspaper plan to file a motion to dismiss the defamation lawsuit filed against them by a pro-abortion faculty member.
Tamara Kay, a professor of Global Affairs and Sociology at Notre Dame, filed a lawsuit against the student newspaper, the Irish Rover, alleging that they “falsely attributed” statements to her that “are defamatory per se and establish a willful intent to portray [her] in a negative and disparaging manner.”
The student newspaper intends to file an anti-SLAAP motion, calling Kay’s claims baseless and false.
An anti-SLAAP motion is an intended precaution to prevent people from using the courts and lawsuits to intimidate or stop people from exercising their First Amendment rights.
“The Rover plans to file an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss the lawsuit in the coming days,” Rover’s Editor in Chief emeritus, Joseph DeReuil, told CatholicVote in an interview. “Because Kay’s claims are baseless, we wish to put this behind us as quickly as possible so that we can reorient our focus upon promoting the Catholic identity of Notre Dame.”
The lawsuit is in reference to two articles the Rover published that reported on Kay’s pro-abortion advocacy efforts on campus and how she sought to help students obtain emergency contraception and abortifacients. The October article highlighted how Kay presented her pro-abortion viewpoint during a September 21 school-sponsored panel.
A follow-up article published in March discussed a talk Kay gave to Notre Dame’s College Democrats group. During the talk, she was asked to give students advice on how to be effective pro-abortion activists.
Kay replied, “It’s a hard thing; you have to really be fully committed to activism to really stick your neck out like I am. I can’t impose that on you. But I’m doing me, and you should do you.”
Kay claims that following the publication of the two articles, she has received threats, been harassed, and had her property damaged. The suit states that she has “suffered mentally and emotionally and has experienced and continues to experience mental anguish and fear for her safety.”
Kay initially claimed that the Rover never reached out to her for comment and that the reporting was baseless and false. However, both articles include a comment from Kay. She has since retracted her statement.
DuReuil said that he had requested an interview with Kay after an event she spoke at, and that it was no different than any other interview he had conducted.”We actually had a very good conversation for 20 minutes,” said DuReuil. “Like we walked away strongly disagreeing obviously with her position, but at least understanding where she was coming from.”
After recording the interview for the Rover, DuReuil added that he never expected there to be an issue from Kay. “I thought I had interesting context to bring into the article … until two days later, after I published the article, she explicitly tweeted out ‘There was absolutely no interview.’”
“The Rover’s reporting simply brought her already public advocacy to the attention of the pro-life parts of the Notre Dame community, adding minimal context through her own statements to the Rover,” said DeReuil. “I am not sure as to why she is filing the suit.”
In a statement posted to her website, Kay said that this lawsuit is not about her.
“My commitment to (the women) and to our Black, Indigenous, LGBTQI+, and students of color is unshakeable, at the core of how I try to live my deep faith every day, and cannot be undermined by threats, abuse, and harassment.”
While Kay has received backlash for her actions, the student journalists at the Rover have received praise for their steadfast reporting and tackling such a controversial matter.
“I’ve gotten a ton of emails and twitter replies regarding this situation…99% of it has been very positive. And it’s a lot of Notre Dame parents, students, or alums who are thanking me and the Rover for reporting on these issues,” DeReuil told CatholicVote.
In early December, Kay, along with fellow faculty member Susan Osterman, penned an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune concerning the alleged harassment she had been subjected to and continued to push her abortion agenda. The president of Notre Dame, Fr. John Jenkins C.S.C., responded with his own letter to the Chicago Tribune disavowing the faculty member’s position.
“Tamara Kay and Susan Ostermann are, of course, free to express their opinions on our campus or in any public forum. Because they choose to identify themselves as Notre Dame faculty members, I write to state unequivocally that their essay does not reflect the views and values of the University of Notre Dame in its tone, arguments, or assertions.”
Throughout the past school year, the school’s administration has stood by the Rover in support of its publication and pro-life advocacy.
“I am grateful for the support that Notre Dame has offered for the cause of the unborn so far,” said DeReuil. “As Fr. Jenkins noted in the Chicago Tribune last Fall, the views of Professor Kay do not reflect those of the University of Notre Dame.”