NYTimes v. Sullivan (1964)
• Context: push for civil rights, an advertisement appeared in the paper purchased by a
number of civil rights groups, it was a fundraiser. Called attention to the struggle for
civil rights and a plea for funds
• Issue: because the advertisement contained false statements (trivial but false),
• City commissioner of Birmingham (where the article used most of its facts): Sullivan
filed for libel because the advertisement implicitly aimed at him.
• By winning the suit, Sullivan could bankrupt the NYTimes and deter the newspaper
from reporting on such civil rights movements. Libel: is in print/// Slander: is spoken
• State CourtAwards the suit to Sullivan and gives him the $50,000.
• Libel before Sullivan was not protected by the 1 Amendment.
• The problem the Supreme Court found with libel as it was previously defined was
that it didn’t protect the fundamental rights of the 1 Amendment.
• The Supreme Court reformed the idea of libel and said that there must be malice in
the libel itself for a suit to be brought.
• Gourgh v. Welsh: a private citizen cannot make the claim that it was not with
malicious intent but a public official or figure can.
• Curtis Publishing v. Butts (1967): Libel rule established in Sullivan applied to public
figures and they can make use of the rule. Leads