Nice dodge for ratings agencies - the First Amendment

When a company is in legal trouble and every avenue of defense looks likely to fail, lawyers often turn to the novel and unexpected. Moody's (MCO) and S&P have been up against criticism that they "sold" good ratings to firms covering financial instruments that did not deserve them

According toThe Wall Street Journal, the courts and critics of the firms have to answer a thorny question. The paper writes, "Are the ratings that the services give securities -- ranging from triple-A to junk -- simply 'opinion' that is protected by the First Amendment?"