Those who argue that the news media should pay a steeper price for mistakes are pushing to have a landmark Supreme Court ruling overturned.
The Florida governor and possible presidential candidate is the latest in a string of Republicans to target the Supreme Court decision that has long protected journalists accused of defamation.
The Supreme Court Monday rejected a church’s request to reconsider the landmark libel decision New York Times v. Sullivan, a 1964 case establishing that public officials must prove “actual malice” in order to prevail on libel claims. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented, reiterating his opinion that the 1964 ruling, and later cases elaborating on it, “were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law.”
Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch last summer signaled his willingness to revisit the landmark media-protection precedent New York Times v. Sullivan. It’s not clear, wrote the justice, “how well Sullivan and all its various extensions serve its intended goals in today’s changed world.” That made for two justices — including Clarence Thomas, an advocate for overturning Sullivan — gunning for a fresh look at the case. But in a recently released white paper on the debate over Sullivan, the nonprofit Media Law Resource Center stacked up refutations to the main planks of the Thomas-Gorsuch argument.
A Judge’s Astonishing Attack On A First Amendment Precedent May End Up Strengthening It Instead
J. Michael Luttig: “Federal appeals court judge Laurence H. Silberman’s dangerous dissenting opinion in Tah v. Global Witness Publishing last week has already caused a firestorm — not because he urged the Supreme Court to overrule New York Times v. Sullivan and its “actual malice” defamation standard, but because of the astonishing and disturbing reasons that he proposed for dispensing with that landmark decision.”