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U.S. Supreme Court turns down Coral Ridge Ministries' hearing on 'hate group' designation affecting its online donation collection

Susan Walsh

The U.S. Supreme Court turned down a South Florida church that says its designation as a “hate group” is preventing it from collecting donations from online shoppers, rejecting a chance to make it easier to sue organizations for libel and defamation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated Fort Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Ministries a “hate group” since at least 2010 for its condemnation of homosexuality. In 2017, the church applied to be a part of the Amazon Smile program, which allows online shoppers to direct a portion of their spending to approved charities.

When Amazon declined to approve Coral Ridge over the hate-group designation, the church sued the Southern Poverty Law Center, which responded that it was allowed to criticize the church under the First Amendment. The church asked the Supreme Court to revisit its landmark 1964 case in New York Times v. Sullivan, which held that public figures must demonstrate that the defamation was made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false.”

Read more from our news partner, the South Florida Sun Sentinel.