Federal Court Dismisses Liberty Counsel’s Lawsuit against GuideStar

Release date: January 23, 2018

Upholds information posted by GuideStar as protected speech

Washington, DC—Judge Raymond A. Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia today granted GuideStar’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Liberty Counsel last June.

GuideStar is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to encourage philanthropy by providing information about nonprofits that members of the public can use to make educated and informed decisions about their relationships with and donations to these nonprofits.  In the lawsuit, Liberty Counsel alleged that GuideStar had violated the federal Lanham Act regulating unfair competition and false advertising by including in its Nonprofit Profile the Southern Poverty Law Center’s designation of Liberty Counsel as a “hate group.” GuideStar promptly moved to dismiss, arguing that this notation was not commercial speech and did not violate the Lanham Act.

In a 10-page decision issued today, the Court agreed. It ruled that the notation was “an informative statement” and was “not commercial speech” under the Lanham Act.