Ben Stein's fortunes in court took a turn for the worse when a judge gutted his free speech lawsuit against a company he says dropped plans to hire him over his global warming beliefs.
The Republican speechwriter turned character actor, who has made his career portraying monotone-voiced nerds in movies and commercials, had sued a Japanese printer company and its ad agency he said dropped plans to cast him in commercials because of his controversial environmental beliefs.
According to Stein, who disagrees with the prevailing scientific position that human activity contributes to climate change, Kyocera Mita did so in violation of his free speech rights and in breach of a contract.
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But California Superior Court judge Elizabeth Ann White wasn't biting.
On Monday, she axed eight of his suit's nine claims, including his First Amendment and breach of contract claims, plus all the others except his publicity rights misappropriation claim, The Hollywood Reporter reported.
White said his case implicated the defendants' freedom of speech and of expressive association as much as it implicated his own, according to the Reporter.
Kyocera has a constitutional right to hire those it thinks will best espouse the views it wants to espouse, she said.
She also found that Stein hadn't presented any evidence to suggest there was anything like a contract between the parties. Stein had not signed a contract but maintained that he had objectively accepted the company's offer of one before Kyocera pulled it — a claim the court rejected.
It was unknown Tuesday whether Stein intended to appeal the decision and how the litigation over the case's remaining claim would proceed.
Calls to lawyers for both parties were not immediately returned.