The landmark 1964 Supreme Court decision New York Times Company v. Sullivan shaped libel and defamation law and established constitutional principles that still govern the scope of press protections in America today. The “actual malice” standard established in the decision requires a public official suing for defamation to prove that the newspaper published a false statement “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.” This made it harder for news publications to be sued for libel; yet it also made it more difficult for those defamed to seek redress. Recently, Supreme Court Justices Gorsuch and Thomas in separate opinions have each called for Sullivan to be revisited. Host Jeffrey Rosen moderated a debate over the importance of the Sullivan case and whether or not it should be reconsidered—featuring experts RonNell Andersen Jones, professor of law at the University of Utah and an Affiliated Fellow at Yale Law School’s Information Society Project, and David A. Logan, professor of law and former dean at Roger Williams University and author of an article cited by Justice Gorsuch in his opinion questioning Sullivan.
In this episode you’ll also hear audio from the Supreme Court oral argument of New York Times v. Sullivan, courtesy of Oyez.
Additional resources and transcript available in our Media Library at constitutioncenter.org/constitution.
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