Credit-rating agencies rely on First Amendment defense

04/21/2009 | Wall Street Journal, The

Credit-rating agencies being sued for rosy outlooks that may have obscured problems will use the First Amendment and say their opinions were free speech protected by the Constitution. Previous decisions required plaintiffs to show that the opinions were made with "actual malice," meaning the latest lawsuits face a major hurdle. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is still going forward with a lawsuit, saying the speech is "much more akin to an advertisement that misstates the price of an item on sale than a political candidate on a soapbox."

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