Mark Tushnet, ‘New York Times v. Sullivan around the world’

New York Times Co v Sullivan was, as one must always recite, an ‘occasion for dancing in the streets’. Or, at least, in the streets of New York, Chicago, and elsewhere in the United States. Its reception in other nations has been more tempered. High courts in other reasonably democratic nations have found Justice Brennan’s opinion persuasive to an important degree, regularly emphasizing that the law of libel should indeed be responsive to concerns that the threat of liability for making provably false statements of fact that injure a person’s reputation will deter news outlets from engaging in vigorous – ‘robust and wide open’ – speech. And, like the Court in New York Times v Sullivan, many high courts have concluded that the traditional contours of libel liability, as they were defined at common law or by older statutes, require adjustment to take this ‘chilling effect’ into account. Almost no one, though, believes that the precise doctrinal solution Justice Brennan devised … (more)

Mark Tushnet, ‘New York Times v. Sullivan around the world’. Alabama Law Review Vol 66 (2) 337 (2014).

First posted 2015-01-07 13:34:49

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