Political comedian Bill Maher made a joke claiming that Donald Trump was the offspring of a half orangutan relationship and offered to pay $5 million to charities if Trump could prove that he was not the offspring of an ape . Now, Donald Trump is suing the comic for $5 million dollars, and even produced a birth certificate in court, claiming that the comic is depriving charities of $5 million by Maher’s failure to pay up. Maher’s joke was a parody of Trump’s birther campaigning against President Obama and Maher was only attempting to parody Trump’s relentless efforts.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding a HUSTLER Magazine parody of Rev. Jerry Falwell once ended up in court, where the court decided that comedy and humor have far greater constitutional protection than other speech and could not be subject to libel suits because it was a form of parody or satire that a reasonable person would understand to be a joke and not an accurate portrayal. Falwell objected to a parody of a liquor ad involving himself, were the text of the fake ad joked about Falwell having sex with his mother in an outhouse. The Rev. Falwell had long been a critic of magazines like HUSTLER with pornographic content, and was more than happy to sue. And a lower court had awarded Falwell $150,000, but HUSTLER appealed that decision, wining an 8-0 Supreme Court decision overturning that lower court ruling that public figures could not collect damages for comedy, jokes, satire or parody that a reasonable person knew was merely a joke. The HUSTLER ad parody also carried a disclaimer that it was an ad parody, and “not to be taken seriously”, yet Falwell attempted to collect damages. Donald Trump seems to attempting to skirt this issue somewhat here by claiming that the parody of Bill Maher actually constituted a form of breech of contract to provide $5 million to charity.
Good luck Donald Trump. It seems that the U.S. Supreme Court has already decided your case for you. Your lawyers might be trying a little legal hair splitting gimmick here. But, comedy, parody, jokes and satire are all as constitutionally protected as much as any bad comb-over jokes other comics have ever made about you such as Conan O’Brien or others.