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Supreme Court Rejects Appeal from Former Coal Company CEO

He argued that major news outlets defamed him by calling him a "felon."

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Oct. 5, 2023, in Washington.
The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Oct. 5, 2023, in Washington.
AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Tuesday from former coal executive Don Blankenship, who argued that major news outlets defamed him by calling him a "felon."

The justices left in place an appellate ruling against Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy. He served a year in prison on a misdemeanor charge after he was found guilty of conspiring to violate safety standards at a West Virginia mine before an explosion in 2010 that killed 29 men.

Justice Clarence Thomas, while agreeing with the court's action Tuesday, repeated his call for the court to overturn its landmark 1964 libel ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court's determination that CNN, Fox News and 14 other outlets sued by Blankenship did not act with "actual malice" amid coverage of his unsuccessful 2018 U.S. Senate campaign, even if they failed to meet journalistic standards.

The high court had previously turned away Blankenship's appeal of his conviction.

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