“We shall continue to persevere in this important case,” the Gone with the Wind actress said today from her Paris home as her attorneys filed an answer to FX’s opposition to de Havilland’s Petition for review to Chief Justice John Roberts and the other eight justices. FX Networks filed a writ of certiorari this month asking SCOTUS not to hear de Havilland’s case, which was first launched in June 2017 and most recently was rejected by California’s high court in July after it had been dismissed by an appellate court a few months beforehand.
On October 5, de Havilland filed her petition with the Supreme Court citing that her “fight is itself important to the principle of honesty, so much in need today in the face of deliberate public confusion for selfish agendas.”
“The First Amendment is at the heart of this controversy,” de Havilland’s main lawyer Suzelle Smith said in a statement Monday. “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword,” the Horwarth & Smith lawyer added. “FX is trying to avoid the Supreme Court upholding Miss de Havilland’s First Amendment rights to prevent attribution of false beliefs to her in its docudrama,” Smith asserted. “The California Court of Appeal focused exclusively on protecting industry interests, and ignored these rights entirely. The Supreme Court should hear this case.”
The two-time Academy Award winner has said for over a year that FX, Murphy and Fox 21 TV never obtained nor even sought her permission to depict her or use her name in Feud: Bette & Joan, their eight-episode series about Joan Crawford and Bette Davis that aired in 2017. Among the prickly personal matters involved, de Havilland’s lawsuit specifically targeted the alleged backstage drama involving her depicted in Feud‘s “And the Winner Is …” episode about the 1963 Oscars and language that the Catherine ZetaiJones depiction of her uses.
“The state court’s position that the knowingly or recklessly false words placed into the mouth of the real, living Miss de Havilland are not defamatory and do not violate her right of publicity ignores the First Amendment right of the individual, as recently expressed by this Court, to prevent attribution of beliefs to a person which he or she does not hold,” today’s filing by Team de Havilland states (read it here). “A person may not be compelled to speak against their views.”
The high court is expected to consider the petition on or around January 4 next year.
FX Networks said it had no statement on the latest filing to SCOTUS by de Havilland.