New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true.

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  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. The case began in 1960 when The New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. that criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters. However, the ad had several factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating. In response, Montgomery police commissioner L. B. Sullivan sued the Times in the local county court for defamation. The judge ruled the advertisement's inaccuracies were defamatory per se, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan and awarded him $500,000 in damages. The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case and ordered certiorari. In March 1964, the Court issued a unanimous 9–0 decision holding that the Alabama court's verdict violated the First Amendment. The decision defended free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. Before this decision, there were nearly $300 million in libel actions from the southern states outstanding against news organizations, as part of a focused effort by southern officials to use defamation lawsuits as a means of preventing critical coverage of civil rights issues in out-of-state publications. The Supreme Court's decision, and its adoption of the actual malice standard, reduced the financial exposure from potential defamation claims, and thus frustrated the efforts of public officials to use these claims to suppress political criticism. The Supreme Court has since extended the decision's higher legal standard for defamation to all "public figures", beginning with the 1967 case Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts. Because of the high burden of proof required and the difficulty of proving a defendant's real knowledge, these decisions have made it extremely difficult for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit in the United States. (en)
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court ruling that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. The case began in 1960 when The New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. that criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters. However, the ad had several factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating. In response, Montgomery police commissioner L. B. Sullivan sued the Times in the local county court for defamation. The judge ruled the advertisement's inaccuracies were defamatory per se, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan and awarded him $500,000 in damages. The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case and ordered certiorari. In March 1964, the Court issued a unanimous 9–0 decision holding that the Alabama court's verdict violated the First Amendment. The decision defended free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. Before this decision, there were nearly $300 million in libel actions from the southern states outstanding against news organizations, as part of a focused effort by southern officials to use defamation lawsuits as a means of preventing critical coverage of civil rights issues in out-of-state publications. The Supreme Court's decision, and its adoption of the actual malice standard, reduced the financial exposure from potential defamation claims, and thus frustrated the efforts of public officials to use these claims to suppress political criticism. The Supreme Court has since extended the decision's higher legal standard for defamation to all "public figures", beginning with the 1967 case Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts. Because of the high burden of proof required and the difficulty of proving a defendant's real knowledge, these decisions have made it extremely difficult for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit in the United States. (en)
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court ruling that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. The case began in 1960 when The New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. that criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters. However, the ad had several factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating. In response, Montgomery police commissioner L. B. Sullivan sued the Times in the local county court for defamation. The judge ruled the advertisement's inaccuracies were defamatory per se, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan and awarded him $500,000 in damages. The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case and ordered certiorari. In March 1964, the Court issued a unanimous 9–0 decision holding that the Alabama court's verdict violated the First Amendment. The decision defended free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. Before this decision, there were nearly $300 million in libel actions from the southern states outstanding against news organizations, as part of a focused effort by southern officials to use defamation lawsuits as a means of preventing critical coverage of civil rights issues in out-of-state publications. The Supreme Court's decision, and its adoption of the actual malice standard, reduced the financial exposure from potential defamation claims, and thus frustrated the efforts of public officials to use these claims to suppress political criticism. The Supreme Court has since extended the decision's higher legal standard for defamation to all "public figures", beginning with the 1967 case Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts. Because of the high burden of proof required and the difficulty of proving a defendant's real knowledge, these decisions have made it extremely difficult for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit in the United States. (en)
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court ruling that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. The case began in 1960 after The New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. that criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters. However, the ad had several factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating. In response, Montgomery police commissioner L. B. Sullivan sued the Times in the local county court for defamation. The judge ruled the advertisement's inaccuracies were defamatory per se, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan and awarded him $500,000 in damages. The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case and ordered certiorari. In March 1964, the Court issued a unanimous 9–0 decision holding that the Alabama court's verdict violated the First Amendment. The decision defended free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. Before this decision, there were nearly $300 million in libel actions from the southern states outstanding against news organizations, as part of a focused effort by southern officials to use defamation lawsuits as a means of preventing critical coverage of civil rights issues in out-of-state publications. The Supreme Court's decision, and its adoption of the actual malice standard, reduced the financial exposure from potential defamation claims, and thus frustrated the efforts of public officials to use these claims to suppress political criticism. The Supreme Court has since extended the decision's higher legal standard for defamation to all "public figures", beginning with the 1967 case Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts. Because of the high burden of proof required and the difficulty of proving a defendant's real knowledge, these decisions have made it extremely difficult for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit in the United States. (en)
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court ruling that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. It has recently been identified as an existential threat to the survival of our free state by Lawrence Silberman, a judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Silberman issued a recent scathing dissent in which he advocated the immediate overturning of NYT v. Sullivan. () The case began in 1960 after The New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. that criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters. However, the ad had several factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating. In response, Montgomery police commissioner L. B. Sullivan sued the Times in the local county court for defamation. The judge ruled the advertisement's inaccuracies were defamatory per se, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan and awarded him $500,000 in damages. The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case and ordered certiorari. In March 1964, the Court issued a unanimous 9–0 decision holding that the Alabama court's verdict violated the First Amendment. The decision defended free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. Before this decision, there were nearly $300 million in libel actions from the southern states outstanding against news organizations, as part of a focused effort by southern officials to use defamation lawsuits as a means of preventing critical coverage of civil rights issues in out-of-state publications. The Supreme Court's decision, and its adoption of the actual malice standard, reduced the financial exposure from potential defamation claims, and thus frustrated the efforts of public officials to use these claims to suppress political criticism. The Supreme Court has since extended the decision's higher legal standard for defamation to all "public figures", beginning with the 1967 case Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts. Because of the high burden of proof required and the difficulty of proving a defendant's real knowledge, these decisions have made it extremely difficult for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit in the United States. (en)
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court ruling that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. Sullivan was the subject of an extensive and critical dissent from 9th circuit court judge, Laurence Silberman, who claimed recently that it enabled a flagrantly biased, democrat-friendly media. () The case began in 1960 after The New York Times published a full-page advertisement by supporters of Martin Luther King Jr. that criticized the police in Montgomery, Alabama, for their mistreatment of civil rights protesters. However, the ad had several factual inaccuracies, such as the number of times King had been arrested during the protests, what song the protesters had sung, and whether or not students had been expelled for participating. In response, Montgomery police commissioner L. B. Sullivan sued the Times in the local county court for defamation. The judge ruled the advertisement's inaccuracies were defamatory per se, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Sullivan and awarded him $500,000 in damages. The Times appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court of Alabama, which affirmed it. It then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case and ordered certiorari. In March 1964, the Court issued a unanimous 9–0 decision holding that the Alabama court's verdict violated the First Amendment. The decision defended free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. Before this decision, there were nearly $300 million in libel actions from the southern states outstanding against news organizations, as part of a focused effort by southern officials to use defamation lawsuits as a means of preventing critical coverage of civil rights issues in out-of-state publications. The Supreme Court's decision, and its adoption of the actual malice standard, reduced the financial exposure from potential defamation claims, and thus frustrated the efforts of public officials to use these claims to suppress political criticism. The Supreme Court has since extended the decision's higher legal standard for defamation to all "public figures", beginning with the 1967 case Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts. Because of the high burden of proof required and the difficulty of proving a defendant's real knowledge, these decisions have made it extremely difficult for a public figure to win a defamation lawsuit in the United States. (en)
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  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. (en)
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court ruling that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. (en)
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court ruling that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. (en)
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court ruling that the freedom of speech protections in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restrict the ability of American public officials to sue for defamation. Specifically, it held that if a plaintiff in a defamation lawsuit is a public official or person running for public office, not only must he or she prove the normal elements of defamation—publication of a false defamatory statement to a third party—he or she must also prove that the statement was made with "actual malice", meaning that the defendant either knew the statement was false or recklessly disregarded whether or not it was true. Sullivan was the subject of an extensive and critical dissent from 9th circuit (en)
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