Maggie Gallagher asks what I think about reviving the “alienation-of-affection” tort as a new “tort of adultery” aimed at third parties that encourage infidelity and thus contribute to divorce, broken homes, children moving into single-parent homes, etc.
I am not a lawyer and can’t comment on all the legal nuances involved here. That said, as a layman, this strikes me as an attractive idea that is worth pursuing.
If AshleyMadison.com and other adultery websites brazenly facilitate infidelity and contribute to divorce actions and the like, it seems to me that they should bear some of the responsibility for the consequences of their actions. It seems reasonable that spouses who were cheated upon due to this website’s behavior should be able to recover a portion of their ill-gotten gains.
I would beware of how far into the tent this camel’s nose might go. Is the bar where the cheating spouses had a drink liable? How about the motel where they snuck off to get jiggy? I suppose the standard would be whether these enterprises knew about or encouraged the adultery. Most likely, such would not.
Also, winking and nodding is one thing. Running TV ads that say, “Life is short, have an affair,” goes well beyond looking the other way at a hotel front desk when “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” check in, pay cash, and then leave an hour later with their hair mussed.
I would be pleased to see other defenders of traditional matrimony denounce AshleyMadison.com. Whatever one thinks about gay marriage, this website is busy lobbing mortar shells at existing male-female couples. It would be good to see AshleyMadison.com operate without the benefit of silence from pro-marriage advocates.