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:
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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, 2001. 189-93. 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, 2009. N. pag. Print. (5)"New York Times Co., V Sullivan." Supreme Court Cases: The Dynamic Court (1930-1999) (1999): N.PAG. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 Nov. 2013. (2,4)Rice, Arnold S. "New York Times Company v. Sullivan." The Warren Court: 1954-1969. Vol. VIII. N.p.: Grolier, 1995. 131- 45. Print.
http://thewallmachine.com/pdosGL.html http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlny/n ew-york-times-companys-profit-drops- 26-percent_b27552 http://www.jimanna.com/archives/000096. html http://moralheroes.org/wp- content/uploads/2011/01/Martin-Luther- King-Jr.jpg
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