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Case Number 376 U.S. 254 By Jerry Stieg.  Court case involving libel Directly impacted Civil Rights Movement  Spurred by advertisement written in the.

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Presentation on theme: "Case Number 376 U.S. 254 By Jerry Stieg.  Court case involving libel Directly impacted Civil Rights Movement  Spurred by advertisement written in the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Case Number 376 U.S. 254 By Jerry Stieg

2  Court case involving libel Directly impacted Civil Rights Movement  Spurred by advertisement written in the New York Times newspaper Titled “Heed Their Rising Voices”  Written and paid for by ‘Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South”(1)  Advertisement addressed many current civil rights issues in Montgomery at the time Included some falsehoods about the police department Did not include Sullivan’s name

3  L. B. Sullivan was the plaintiff of the case Montgomery city commissioner  Misinterpreted parts of the advertisement Testified that the newspaper’s reflection on the police department directly affected him, because he supervised the department Wanted $500,000 from the New York Times Company for damages to his reputation(2)

4  New York Times Company Famous newspaper  Was oblivious that any part of the article was not true Confused as to why Sullivan thought the article concerned him

5  Case was originally heard in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County Prosecution argued “no one would want to be associated with anybody who would be a party to such things that are stated in that advertisement” (3)  No one could prove that the accusation in the article were a direct reference to Sullivan Sullivan neglected to prove any actual damages  Court still awarded Sullivan the $500,000 dollars he requested

6  Alabama Supreme Court judged the appeal  Provided a vague definition of libel (libel per se) This definition described it as “any printed words that injure a person’s reputation, profession, trade, or business; accuse a person of a punishable offense, or bring public contempt upon a person” (4)  Also ruled in Sullivan’s favor and reminded New York Times Company that the first amendment does not protect libelous publications

7  New York Times Company were outsiders  Strong detest in Alabama for the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr.  Did not want to give newspaper companies too much power

8  New York Times Company felt the case was a first amendment rights issue, therefore it was appealed to the Supreme Court New York Times believed all publications with good intentions should be protected  Supreme Court recognized Alabama’s libel law as a powerful tool against civil rights

9  Justice Brennan delivered the opinion  Set a new libel standard  “Actual malice” “Knowingly printing false information or printing it with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not” is the only true libel regarding public officials or figures (5)  Public official's conduct when on the job is “public property”  Judged in favor of the New York Times Company

10  Allowed newspapers to publish atrocities of Civil Rights Movement without fear of law suit  Increased freedom of the press  Allowed open criticism of public officials  Helped progress the Civil Rights Movement

11 (1)Brannen, Daniel E., Richard Clay Hanes, and Elizabeth M. Shaw. "New York Times Company v. Sullivan." Supreme Court Drama: Cases That Changed America. Detroit: U.X.L, Print. (3)Herbeck, Dale A. "New York Times Company v. Sullivan." Freedom of Speech in the United States. By Thomas L. Tedford. 6th ed. State College, PA: Strata, N. pag. Print. (5)"New York Times Co., V Sullivan." Supreme Court Cases: The Dynamic Court ( ) (1999): N.PAG. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Nov (2,4)Rice, Arnold S. "New York Times Company v. Sullivan." The Warren Court: Vol. VIII. N.p.: Grolier, Print.

12 ew-york-times-companys-profit-drops- 26-percent_b html content/uploads/2011/01/Martin-Luther- King-Jr.jpg


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