Sarah Palin‘s defamation trial against the New York Times has been delayed until February 3 after Palin tested positive for COVID-19, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ordered on Monday.

Palin served as the governor of Alaska from 2006 to 2009. She was also John McCain‘s running mate in the 2008 election.

Palin sued the Times in 2017 after an opinion piece incorrectly reported that the rhetoric of her political action committee was connected to the shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Arizona). The piece said that a map that had been circulated by the group put Gifford and other Democratic lawmakers under stylized crosshairs. When Palin initially sued, the paper apologized for their mistake, saying it was an honest accident. They ran a correction two days later. The case was dismissed before being brought back by a federal appeals court in 2019. It is very rare for a major paper to have to defend itself in a libel case against a prominent public figure.

James Bennett, the editorial page editor at the time who was responsible for publishing the information in question, testified that he had not personally researched the information and believed that it was correct when it was published. The case will explore the limits of the First Amendment and the landmark New York Times vs. Sullivan case. It must be determined if Bennett showed “actual malice” when publishing the information.


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Rakoff offered other options to continue with the trial on schedule, but Palin’s lawyers said she wants to be there for jury selection and wants to testify in person.

This is Palin’s second time to test positive for the coronavirus. She stated last month that “it will be over my dead body that I’ll have to get a shot.”

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