In a defeat for Fox News, a judge on Friday ordered that a jury trial be held to decide Dominion Voting Systems' defamation lawsuit against the network over its coverage of the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric Davis ruled that Dominion has already proven that statements Fox aired about the company and the election were false, the Hill reports. Whether Fox acted with actual malice should be decided by a jury, he said. "The evidence developed in this civil proceeding demonstrates that is CRYSTAL clear than none of the Statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true," the ruling says. "Therefore, the Court will grant summary judgment in favor of Dominion on the element of falsity."
Fox had argued its First Amendment protection should keep it from facing trial, per CNBC. Both sides had asked to be declared the winner on the matter now. Some of the voting machine company's motions were granted by Davis but not the one seeking a summary judgment on the issue of malice, which goes to whether defamation took place. The trial could take weeks, starting next month, per CNN, and put top Fox executives and on-air personalities on the stand. Chairman Rupert Murdoch already has been questioned in a deposition.
Both parties responded to the judge's decision Friday, per the Washington Post. Dominion said it was "gratified by the Court's thorough ruling soundly rejecting all of Fox's arguments and defenses, and finding as a matter of law that their statements about Dominion are false" and said the company looks forward to trial. "This case is and always has been about the First Amendment protections of the media's absolute right to cover the news," a Fox statement said. "Fox will continue to fiercely advocate for the rights of free speech and a free press as we move into the next phase of these proceedings." (Read more Fox News stories.)