Sacha Baron Cohen has rejected an appeal filed by a former judge who had accused him of defamation.
Roy Moore said he was falsely portrayed as a pedophile by comedian Baron Cohen on his show Who Is America?.
A lower court judge had said the interview was “clearly comical and no reasonable viewer would conclude otherwise”.
And on Thursday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision, voting by a 3-0 margin that the interview was constitutionally protected speech.
Mr Moore had signed a standard consent agreement before his interview with Baron Cohen and the court said this waived his right to continue the $95m (£79m) lawsuit.
But Mr Moore’s solicitor, Larry Klayman, said the deal was ambiguous because he struck out a provision waiving claims relating to alleged sexual conduct and questioning.
Mr Klayman said the court’s decision was a “travesty” and Mr Moore and his wife Kayla – who had related claims dismissed by the court – will ask the entire 2nd Circuit to reconsider the case.
Lawyers for Baron Cohen, 50, did not comment on the decision.
“Falsely and Fraudulently”
Mr. Moore’s interview with Baron Cohen took place in Washington, where Mr. Moore expected to receive an award for his support of Israel.
According to the complaint, Baron Cohen, disguised as a fictitious Israeli counter-terrorism expert, had “falsely and fraudulently introduced a false and fraudulent ‘device’ allegedly invented by the Israeli military to detect pedophiles”.
“During the segment, Baron Cohen’s ‘device’ – as part of the false and fraudulent routine – in effect detects Judge Moore as a sex offender and pedophile, thereby defaming him. »
Mr. Moore had walked away from Baron Cohen after “the telephone” rang.
“Humor is an important means of legitimate expression”
The former Republican Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court lost his race for the US Senate in 2017 amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
These charges – which he denies – relate to alleged behavior towards teenage girls when he was in his 30s.
The appeals court panel of judges said that although Baron Cohen’s show referenced the allegations, no reasonable person would believe the “obviously wacky pedophile detection device” actually worked.
They said: “Humour is an important means of legitimate expression and is essential to the well-being of individuals, society and their government. »