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New York Times v. Sullivan is one of the two or three most important free speech cases in American history. In essence, New York Times held that reporters and other individuals cannot be held liable for making unintentionally false statements against public figures so long as they do not do so with “reckless disregard of whether [their statement] was false or not.”

... SNIP ...

    One of the evolutionary provisions that I abhor is New York Times v. Sullivan. It made a very good system that you can libel public figures at will so long as somebody told you something — some reliable person — told you the lie that you then publicized to the whole world. That’s what New York Times v. Sullivan says. That may well be a good system and the people of New York state could have adopted that by law, but for the Supreme Court to say that the Constitution requires that — that’s not what the people understood when they ratified the First Amendment. . . .

    The issue is “who decides?” Who decides what’s right? And it’s the people. The background rule is democracy, and the rule of democracy is the majority rules.

Think Progress

A little background. NYT versus Sullivan was prompted when civil rights groups ran an ad in the Times complaining about how Martin Luther King was treated. They got some of their facts wrong - they stated ML King had been arrested 7 times rather than the correct 4.

And then an Alabama judge awarded $500,000 to aggrieved racists. So Scalia's fervent support of the rule of the people is EXPLICITLY that if the majority of the people of Alabama want anyone who criticizes Jim Crow to be shut down by the government, then that's how the law should be.

Which of course means that your humble blogger could be sued by Judge Scalia if I, e.g., misspelled his name. And if the venue where the suit was heard was favorable to corrupt misreaders of the Founder's intent, and prejudiced against blue-tinted quadrupeds, I could wind up owing Scalia everything I own.

The man has no shame, and no intellectual integrity.


Do you hope President Obama gets to appoint Scalia's successor?

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