ERIC Number: ED244263
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Twenty Years after "New York Times v. Sullivan" (and Ten Years after "Gertz v. Welch"), It's Time to Seek Relief in Congress from Bad Constitutional Law.
Hughes, Robert L.
The 20 years following the "New York Times v. Sullivan" Supreme Court decision have seen an accelerating erosion of the protection necessary for the press to perform its function. The erosion has occurred in part because of unfavorable decisions of the substantive law. But in a very large measure it has also been because of uncertain and conflicting rules of state law or procedures, and the inhibiting impact on publishers who must be prepared to be taken to court in any of 51 jurisdictions and to explain their conduct in terms of whatever law is in force there. One possible solution is a federal libel law that could follow either of two models. The first would be a federal civil libel action pre-empting state libel laws. Under this model an aggrieved person would file his or her suit in federal court and a defendant, wherever located, would have the case tried under one uniform law. The second model would be for the Federal Congress to enact legislation to establish a floor of protection for libel defendants. The suit would be in state courts but plaintiffs would not be allowed to recover damages under state laws that did not meet the federally mandated minimum. Admittedly, these models are not without problems, but they should receive serious assessment as a mechanism for accomplishing what other means have as yet failed to do. (HOD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Libel; New York Times v Sullivan
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (67th, Gainesville, FL, August 5-8, 1984).