Lee Daniels Fires Back at Sean Penn in $10 Million Defamation Lawsuit

“Penn has the power to buy most things. Fortunately for Daniels, the First Amendment is not for sale,” papers filed by “Empire” producer say

Lee Daniels is taking a swing at Sean Penn — legally speaking, anyway.

“The Butler” director Daniels has fired back at Penn after the actor filed a $10 million defamation lawsuit against him.

Penn filed suit against Daniels in September, claiming that the filmmaker defamed him in an article discussing the domestic abuse allegations against Terrence Howard, star of Daniels’ Fox drama “Empire.”

“That poor boy, [Terrence] ain’t done nothing different than Marlon Brando or Sean Penn, and all of a sudden he’s some f–in’ demon,” the lawsuit quotes Daniels as saying. “That’s a sign of the time, of race, of where we are right now in America.”

Penn contended in his lawsuit that the comparison between himself and Howard was unfair.

“Daniels falsely equates Penn with Howard, even though, while he has certainly had several brushes with the law, Penn (unlike Howard) has never been arrested, much less convicted, for domestic violence, as his ex-wives (including Madonna) would confirm and attest,” Penn’s lawsuit reads.

On Thursday, Daniels filed legal papers seeking to dismiss the suit, in part because Daniels’ statement was his opinion, and constitutionally protected.

The papers also call Penn’s lawsuit a “blunt force instrument wielded in an attempt to control the narrative of his life.”

“With fame, money and high-priced legal counsel, Penn has the power to buy most things. Fortunately for Daniels, the First Amendment is not for sale,” the papers, filed in New York Supreme Court, read.

“Penn’s complaint is merely a blunt force instrument wielded in an attempt to control the narrative of his life and to expunge the alleged misdeeds sensationalized in the press for decades.”

For emphasis, Daniels’ attorney submitted exhibits comprising articles with titles such as “Sean Penn Forgets We All Know He Beat Madonna and Sues Lee Daniels for Defamation” and “Sean Penn‘s Horrifying History of Alleged Abuse,” along with a copy of a printout of the Google results for “Sean Penn and domestic violence,” which according to the court papers “produces 432,000 results.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.