College of DuPage

First Amendment Trumps Defamation – Palin Defamation Case Dismissed

United States (ECWd) –

The Federal District Court issued their order today in the Sarah Palin Defamation case and even though you may not agree with what the New York Times printed, the federal courts have properly applied the well-established case law that should be taught at every level in our legal system.  In addition, we would hope that every high school and college turn back to teaching our most fundamental right in our Constitution, the First Amendment.

When our education system fails to apply those same well-established standards to our youth in the classroom, we do a disservice, not only to them but to all of those who have fought for this great country and paid the ultimate sacrifice.   If lawyers and courts allow political persuasion to influence decisions instead of well-established case law then we are doomed as a society, and that too, is a slap in the face to all who sacrificed making this country free.

The 26-page order can be downloaded here or viewed below.  We copied several key points in the case that we are confident our readers will appreciate as it relates to holding those in public business and public office accountable.

Thank you, US District Judge Jed S. Rakoff! 

“Nowhere is political journalism so free, so robust, or perhaps so rowdy as in the United States. In the exercise of that freedom, mistakes will be made, some of which will be hurtful to others. Responsible journals will promptly correct their errors; others will not. But if political journalism is to achieve its constitutionally endorsed role of challenging the powerful, legal redress by a public figure must be limited to those cases where the public figure has a plausible factual basis for complaining that the mistake was made maliciously, that is, with knowledge it was false or with reckless disregard of its falsity. ” 

“[S]peaking out on political issues is a core freedom protected by the First Amendment and probably presents the ‘strongest case’ for applying ‘the New York Times [v. Sullivan] rule.'” Schatz v. Republican State Leadership Comm., 669 F.3d 50, 51 (1st Cir. 2012) (quoting Harte Hanks, 491 U.S. at 666 n. 7, 686-687)).”

“Therefore, “a statement of opinion relating to matters of public concern which does not contain a provably false factual connotation will receive full constitutional protection.” Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., 497
U.S. 1, 20 (1990).”

“a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” Sullivan, 376 U.S. at 270″

“Sullivan and succeeding cases “have emphasized that the stake of the people in public business and the conduct of public officials is so great that neither the defense of truth nor the standard of ordinary care would protect against self-censorship and thus adequately implement First Amendment policies.” St. Amant, 390 U.S. at 731-732″

“Public figures who seek damages for defamatory statements must, however, do more than prove that the statements about them were false. They must also prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the statements were made with “actual malice” – that is, with knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard as to their falsity. Sullivan, 376 U.S. at 279-280; Masson v. New Yorker, 501 U.S. 496, 508 (1991); Biro v. Conde Nast, 807 F.3d 541,”

“See, ‘Harte-Hanks, 491 U.S. at 665 (“[A] public figure plaintiff must prove more than an extreme departure from professional standards” to demonstrate actual malice).”

Sara Palin Defamation Order

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2 replies »

  1. So liars get a free pass because they are journalists… Palin may not have had tangible proof, but its obvious what the intent of the NYT’s was, its inconceivable to believe otherwise. I’m all for a free press, but obvious libelous comments should not be protected. Yes the NYT’s corrected their so called error, but that was not an error that the NYT’s could have made unless they did it on purpose. When we were kids we used to call it “accidently on purpose”.

    • Rule of law MUST be our focus, not ideological divides that we all know exist. I dont agree with what the NY Times did and thought she had a winning case but after reading all of the opinion and case law cited, I stand with the law on this one.

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