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2nd Semester Constitutional History Notes 12.docx

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Boston College
LAWS 2180
Alan Rogers

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 st 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
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