The court said the segment was ‘clearly comedy’
Mr Moore hoped to bring a $95m defamation lawsuit against Mr Cohen, claiming the actor duped him into participating in an unflattering interview that was broadcast on the show “Who is America?”
However, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a lower court’s ruling in Mr Cohen’s favour.
Both courts found that Mr Moore had lawfully signed a disclosure agreement prohibiting him from filing charges against Mr Cohen relating to the experience.
Mr Moore was particularly upset about a joke in which Mr Cohen – who was disguised as an Israeli anti-terror expert – demonstrated a “paedophile detector”. When he pointed the device at Mr Moore, its alarm sounded.
The Republican Senate-hopeful was the focus of misconduct allegations during his Alabama Senate race in 2017 after it was revealed he tried to date teenagers while he was in his 30s. He has denied the allegations and called the bit on Mr Cohen’s show defamation.
The court disagreed, saying the skit was “clearly comedy”, and that no viewer would think the comedian actually was making the claim that the device could sniff out paedophiles.
“Baron Cohen may have implied (despite his in character disclaimers of any belief that Judge Moore was a pedophile) that he believed Judge Moore’s accusers, but he did not imply the existence of any independent factual basis for that belief besides the obviously farcical pedophile detecting ‘device,’ which no reasonable person could believe to be an actual, functioning piece of technology,” the court wrote.
Mr Moore and his wife, Kayla, argued that the interview had defamed the Senate hopeful and had caused them both emotional distress. The Republican hoped he could convince the court that the waiver he signed was an agreement made under false pretense, but they court did not agree with that interpretation of events.
Ultimately Mr Moore would lose the Senate race, putting a Democrat in the seat for the first time in 25 years. College football coach Tommy Tuberville returned the seat to the Republicans the following election.
Despite their loss, Mr Moore and his wife said they plan to appeal. They hope their lawsuit will finally free the public from the burden of having to watch Mr Cohen thoroughly embarrass politicians.
“For far too long the American people have been subjected to the antics of Sasha Baron Cohen. His pusillanimous and fraudulent conduct must be stopped. We will appeal,” they said in a statement to the Associated Press.