Supreme Court declines to revisit "actual malice" libel decision in New York Times v. Sullivan

I wonder if Clarence Thomas’s bosses in conservative circles will be happy that he wants to revisit this decision, as I suspect the “actual malice” bar is all that’s prevented people from suing Fox “News” for slander or libel in the past based on their entertainers’ words.


Originally published at: Supreme Court declines to "open up our Libel law" | Boing Boing


It goes without saying that if the law were changed to make it easier to sue people who make defamatory or factually inaccurate statements about public figures then Donald Trump would be one of the first people to get his butt dragged into court for it.

Shoot, Giuliani is on the hook for millions as it is for defaming Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.


I like the idea, but lowering the bar for lawsuits just means lots more not as rich people dragged into court and having to find money to prove they didn’t libel the rich person who decided to sue.


… and then his face would be awarded as damages in Leopard v. Trump :leopard:


I agree, the costs would outweigh the benefits. The U.S. model isn’t perfect but I prefer it to many of the other systems out there.

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He might be, but he would also make liberal use of a lower standard and sue every media network in existence. And mainstream media tends to be really risk averse. Hell, they already read on-air legal disclaimers any time they’re reporting on alleged crimes of Trump, Giuliani, or literally anyone, when they have no legal obligation to do so. If it becomes easier to sue them, they’ll just stop reporting on allegations completely, which is exactly what Trump et al want.


Poor vehicle indeed.
Clarence only rides in style via private jets or yachts.


Once again, Thomas telegraphs “I’ll change any law if the right people pay me to do it.”


But a public statement can also be completely true and still qualify as criminal defamation. If the court finds that the defendant had made true statements with the “intent to commit defamation” and not out of “public interest,” the defendant can still be convicted—facing up to three years in jail or a $20 million KRW fine ($17,830 USD). More importantly, the burden is on the defendant to prove to the court the vague meaning of “public interest.”

Korea is a great example of what happens to freedom of the press and freedom of speech when Libel and Defamation laws are overly protective. We had much more overt political satire on TV during the 80s. Now even news outlets are loathe to mention names or show faces, opting for masking with “a prominent government official” in any exposé, if they ever rack up the courage to report the scandal at all. It has a significant chilling effect on whistleblowers.

Shows with political commentary are typically hosted by lawyers, those who can actually handle defamation lawsuits on their own. First reports of fraud and abuse are given by legislators with immunity from arrest or prosecution for speech during their time in office, and then news outlets will begin covering it, because technically, they didn’t “break” the story.

We make do, but the laws are clearly in the favor of the wealthy and powerful. I have a scammy public-figure I wish I could expose, but I can’t afford the fight to prove public interest, despite a constant stream of fraud and abuse from this “well-respected” leader. I have to wait until there is a groundswell so I don’t have to bear the brunt of being the one to “break” the story.

You can imagine just how much more courage a woman must muster up to expose someone’s abuse or even (non-violent) assault here in Korea. Many more end up choosing to disappear or to end their lives.


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