A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the University of Minnesota could not be sued because the website of one of its research centers had labeled another website "unreliable."
The statements made by the University of Minnesota website were protected legally -- either by being true or by being opinion -- said the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The website that prompted the suit is run by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Minnesota. Scholars there, consistent with the consensus view of historians of genocide, include the slaughter of Armenians during World War I as a case of genocide. The suit challenged the right of the center to label as "unreliable" a website of the Turkish Coalition of America that cast doubt on whether the Armenians experienced a genocide.
Not surprisingly, the case has been closely followed by historians of that period in history. But the case has also been tracked by scholars concerned about academic freedom generally, some of whom worried that a dangerous precedent could have been set by a suit against an academic center for expressing its views on areas of scholarship. The Middle East Studies Association, for example, has called on the Turkish Coalition of American to withdraw the suit.
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