Supreme Court Upholds “Actual Malice” Requirement of Defamation Cases

If you’re tired of censorship and dystopian threats against civil liberties, subscribe to Reclaim The Net. Leaning on the principles of Free Speech in the United States, the Supreme Court recently upheld the precedent of the seminal First Amendment case, New York Times v. Sullivan. This decision, much to the objection of Justice Clarence Thomas, preserves the “actual malice” hurdle that public figures must surmount to claim libel in civil court. The Sullivan decision, dating back to 1964, stands as a bulwark against defamation suits slung towards media outlets by dissatisfied public figures. This time-honored safeguard requires such individuals to demonstrate that potentially damaging statements were made with “actual malice” to have any hope of prevailing in their libel accusations. The particulars of this safeguard have not been without controversy, particularly from conservative circles, among whom Justice Thomas can be counted. Undeterred by the majority stance, he voiced his eagerness to reassess the Sullivan ruling, pointing out that the specifics of the current case – Don Blankenship v. NBC Universal, LLC—did not lend themselves well to scrutinizing Sullivan’s standing. Read the opinion here. In recent years, Justice Thomas has been dogged in his criticism of this long-standing ruling. His disagreements culminated in a forceful dissent that characterized Sullivan as a “flawed” judicial decision. Moreover, in 2019, he categorically referred to the ruling as part of “policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law.” This criticism arises against the backdrop of former coal magnate Don Blankenship’s legal wrangling. Convicted for a misdemeanor conspiracy…Supreme Court Upholds “Actual Malice” Requirement of Defamation Cases