Tuesday, September 27, 2005


The New York Times is already starting to worry about how Judge Roberts - soon to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court -- will rule on libel laws.

The case in point was New York Times v. Sullivan. In 1964 the U.S. Supreme Court revolutionized libel laws to shield newspapers from anything but the most unprovable demonstration of libel.
The Sullivan case held that the First Amendment required public officials suing for libel to prove that the statements they complained of were made with "actual malice" - that is, with knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard as to whether they were false.
This was a complete reversal of libel laws inherited from, and still in effect, in England. The libel laws that kept media honest. The libel law that keep British newspapers from the lies that American media have been shielded from by the NYT v Sullivan ruling. The libel laws that curbed vicious assaults on the truth.

The Sullivan case was the subject of a book ""Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment" by New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis. His wife is currently head of the Massachusetts Supreme Court who ruled that the state had to accept gay marriage.

The New York Times is right to worry. Their own refusal to correct news stories by Paul Krugman and Alessandra Stanley's libel of Geraldo Rivera demean journalism. You can bet for the immediate future that our MSM is going to worry about some libel case being brought to the U.S. Supreme Court. And that is a very good thing.

UPDATE: The New York Times retracts the story. John Roberts had NOT authored the memo.

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