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Federal appeals court tosses suit against former congressman by Muslim rights group

[JURIST] The US DC Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday upheld the dismissal [PDF opinion] of a defamation lawsuit against former US Rep. Cass Ballenger [Wikipedia profile] which was brought by an American Muslim civil rights group. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [advocacy website] sued Ballenger [JURIST report] for comments he made in a 2003 interview to the Charlotte Observer when he said the group gave money to the Shi'a Islamist group Hezbollah [Wikipedia backgrounder] and said he worried about the location of the CAIR's headquarters because they could "blow-up" the Capitol.

The civil rights group has denied any links to terrorism and sought $2 million in the lawsuit against Ballenger, but last year a federal judge threw out the case saying the suit should instead be against the US government because Ballenger was a federal employee. The judge then threw out the case entirely under the doctrine of sovereign immunity [LII backgrounder], which bars most cases against the US government. AP has more.

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