Court Upholds Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Right to Call Out Nation of Islam’s and Louis Farrakhan’s Anti-Semitic Comments

April 8, 2024

LOS ANGELES – The Southern District of New York dismissed on Friday a $4.8 billion defamation lawsuit filed in October by Louis Farrakhan and Nation of Islam ("NOI") against the Simon Wiesenthal Center ("SWC") and Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC's Associate Dean & Global Social Action Director, as well as the Anti-Defamation League and its CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Farrakhan and NOI claimed that SWC was defaming them because SWC and the other defendants repeatedly called their comments anti-Semitic.  

SWC countered that they have a constitutional right to express an opinion about what they believe is anti-Semitic hate speech, stating in their brief that “Plaintiffs seek here to rewrite decades of legal precedent and overturn the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.”

Judge Denise Cote in the U.S. Southern District of New York agreed, holding: “The challenged statements referring to Farrakhan as anti-Semitic are non-actionable statements of opinion. The communications in which they were published contain ‘a recitation of facts on which (they are) based’ – namely direct quotes from Farrakhan.”

In response to the Court’s ruling, SWC’s Rabbi Cooper stated:  “We are grateful that the United States judicial system recognized and validated our First Amendment right to confront and speak out against anti-Semitism by dismissing Louis Farrakhan’s lawsuit and not-so-veiled attempt to silence the SWC and impede our mission.”

Rabbi Cooper further noted, “Unfortunately, the judicial system cannot defeat the anti-Semitic hate that Farrakhan has spawned and spread throughout America over the last four decades.  SWC will steadfastly uphold its commitment to pursue and to combat the racism and anti-Semitism that continues to target America’s Blacks and Jews.”

SWC’s attorney, Julie Gerchik of Glaser Weil Fink Howard Jordan & Shapiro LLP, said upon winning the dismissal, “We are pleased the Court affirmed the Constitution’s First Amendment right to free speech and recognized the plaintiffs’ transparent effort to weaponize the legal system to intimidate those calling out anti-Semitism and hate.” Ms. Gerchik added, “Along with my colleagues Patty Glaser and Eric Su, I was honored to represent SWC and proud that Glaser Weil supported us in this effort.”  

For further information, please email Michele Alkin, Director of Global Communications at or Erik Simon at, join the Center on Facebook, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an international Jewish human rights organization. It holds consultative status at the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS, and the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO).  

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