“Defendants have moved for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by both a waiver clause in the agreement that Judge Moore signed prior to the interview and also by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” Judge John P. Cronan said in his opinion.
In 2018, Moore, former chief justice on the Alabama Supreme Court, filed a $95 million defamation lawsuit against Cohen, Showtime, and its parent company, CBS Corporation, following his appearance in an episode of the series, Who Is America? In the segment, which can be seen above, Cohen interviews Moore while posing as General Erran Morad, an Israeli anti-terrorism expert.
Prior to their sit-down, Moore had been accused of sexual misconduct towards female teenagers while he was in his 30s. He alleges in the suit that he flew to Washington, D.C. to receive an award for his support of Israel. During their discussion, Cohen claims to have created technology that can detect pedophiles. The device begins to beep when passed over Moore, who eventually walks off.
Moore alleges that his signature on the waiver that he signed prior to the interview “was obtained through fraud” and therefore “void and inoperative.” Judge Cronan determined that the unambiguous contractual language meant that Moore’s lawsuit didn’t have a leg to stand on. His wife Kayla was included in the suit, and while her signature wasn’t obtained, Cronan ruled that Cohen was protected under his First Amendment rights.
“It is simply inconceivable that the program’s audience would have found a segment with Judge Moore activating a supposed pedophile-detecting wand to be grounded in any factual basis,” Cronan said. “Given the satirical nature of that segment and the context in which it was presented, no reasonable viewer would have interpreted Cohen’s conduct during the interview as asserting factual statements concerning Judge Moore.”