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Posted: 11/30/2002 10:22:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/1/2002 5:30:47 AM EDT by jrzy]
It looks to me that they can as long as they meet the higher standard of malice Case summaries New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964) Gertz v. Welch, 418 U.S. 323 (1974) Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130 (1967) (consolidated with Associated Press v. Walker) Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497 U.S. 1 (1990) Case Name: New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964) Argued: Jan. 6 and 7, 1964 Date Decided: March 9, 1964 Issue: Freedom of the Press — Whether the First Amendment limits a state's power to award libel damages brought by a public official against critics of the official's public duties. [b]Vote: 9-0; The Court ruled that the First and Fourteenth Amendments require a public official suing for defamation to prove that the allegedly defamatory comments were made with 'actual malice — that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.[/b] Facts: The New York Times published an editorial advertisement in 1960 entitled "Heed Their Rising Voices" by the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King. The full-page ad detailed abuses suffered by Southern black students at the hands of the police in Montgomery, Ala. Even though he was not mentioned by name in the article, L.B. Sullivan, the city commissioner in charge of the police department, sued the Times and four individual black clergyman who were listed as the officers of the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King. Sullivan demanded a retraction from paper. After not receiving a retraction, Sullivan then sued the newspaper and the four clergymen for defamation in Alabama state court. The trial judge submitted the case to the jury, charging them that the comments were "libelous per se" and not privileged. The judge instructed the jury that falsity and malice are presumed. The judge also instructed the jury that the newspaper and the individual defendants could be held liable if the jury determined they had published the statements and that the statements were "of and concerning" Sullivan. The jury awarded Sullivan $500,000. After this award was upheld by the Alabama appellate courts, the defendants appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Legal Principles: "It is a prized American privilege to speak one's mind, although not always, with perfect good taste, on all public institutions." Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252 (1942). The First Amendment protects "vigorous advocacy" in addition to "abstract discussion." NAACP v. Button, 371 U.S. 415 (1963). Legal Basis: [b]The First Amendment requires that a public official suing for damages for damnatory falsehoods relating to his official conduct prove that the statements were made with actual malice.[/b] Otherwise, the court reasoned, public debate on important issues would be lessened. Citizens have the right to criticize their government officials. Without providing some protection for error in public debates, individuals will engage in self-censorship rather than speak out on important public issues for fear of a libel suit. Main Opinion: Justice Brennan Concurring Opinions: Justice Black and Justice Goldberg (Justice Douglas joined each concurring opinion) Quotable: Thus we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials. (Brennan) Although the Sedition Act was never tested in this Court, the attack upon its validity has carried the day in the court of history. (Brennan) An unconditional right to say what one pleases about public affairs is what I consider to be the minimum guarantee of the First Amendment. (Black)
Link Posted: 12/1/2002 5:31:11 AM EDT
yo Eric where you at?
Link Posted: 12/1/2002 5:51:18 AM EDT
Sorry, I was busy trying to convince George W. that he should sue [b]Imbroglio[/b] for the rude use of his quote as a sig line! Now, where were we? Oh, yes, I think it very likely that a public official could sue for the intentional and reckless reporting, or publication, of a libelous or slanderous comment.... But I think he would lose. Big time! Not only in the Courts of Law, but in the Court of Public Opinion. Remember, the whole Thomas Jefferson [b]('I did not have sex with that 3/5 of a woman, Miz Hemmings')[/b] and sultry, dusky Sally Hemmings affair was first mentioned in a newspaper editorial by a disgruntled office-seeker. I can't imagine that the Supreme Court would ever uphold a judgment against a newspaper/media outlet based upon [u]anything[/u] that was written that was the least bit tinged with politics. Political free speech, you may recall, was the very essence of the whole First Amendment's coverage. The backlash against such a politician would make him [u]wish[/u] that a black woman with kids would show up at his office door alleging involuntary servitude and illegitimate relations! Eric The(WiseBeyondHisEars)Hun[>]:)]
Link Posted: 12/1/2002 6:07:58 AM EDT
Thanks Eric I was having a debate on this issue with a tinfoil nut on another board. I took the position that a public official can sue but they are held to the higher standard of proving malice that was listed in the SCOTUS decision. If for instance the NY times ran a story they knew was false and the story said that Colon Powell was entertaining two hookers in his DC office on Friday night ,the times would get crucified in court. True or False
Link Posted: 12/1/2002 6:18:58 AM EDT
Post from jrzy -
If for instance the NY times ran a story they knew was false and the story said that Colon Powell was entertaining two hookers in his DC office on Friday night ,the times would get crucified in court.
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Yes, they might get crucified in the trial court, but if there is [u]any[/u] possible political motivation that can be urged for the story, such as: [b]Powell's heavy handed treatment of people of color throughout the world, and especially in the Third World, in his chosen position as George W's pet generalissimo lackey can only be likened to a man of power who feels the need to debase womenz by sexually abusing call girls or hookers in the most odious manner. [u]That[/u] is what we were trying to convey in our story, and only that![/b] Bing-bing-bing! The Times wins! It will be Powell who will be crucified, but only in his own home (by Miz Powell, who does wonder about certain 'receipts' that don't add up on her husband's recent trip to NYC). Eric The(Realistic)Hun[>]:)]
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