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AZ Supreme Court sides with Wendy Rogers in campaign ad lawsuit

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled an attack ad aired from state Sen. Wendy Rogers during a congressional primary race is protected by the First Amendment. 

Rogers was sued after running in ad in 2018 that claimed her opponent Steve Smith worked at a modeling agency that specialized in underage girls and advertised on websites linked to sex trafficking. 

Pamela Young, who owned the modeling agency mentioned in the ad but wasn’t specifically named, sued Wendy Rogers for defamation, saying the ad falsely implied the agency was involved in trafficking.

The 4-3 ruling sided with Rogers, arguing if the suit could go forward to a jury, it would inevitably and intolerably chill political speech. 

In a dissenting opinion, Vice Chief Justice Ann Scott Timmer said that view weaponizes the First Amendment. 

Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.