Jerry Falwell sued Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine for libel claims, privacy claims, and tort of intentional emotional distress. The Court found for Hustler on the privacy claims and let the jury to decide for the other two. The jury found against Falwell on the libel claims because they believed it could not “reasonably understood to be describing actual facts…or events.” On the other hand, it found against Hustler for the tort of intentional emotional distress. It awarded Falwell $150,000 for compensatory and punitive damages. Original Jurisdiction
Basically, the Appeals Court affirmed the judgment of the District Court. Hustler felt as though the actual malice standard had to be met before Falwell could recover damages. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court. Affirmation
Political cartoons People in everyday life Reputational damage Reasoning for publication
“deliberate, malicious character assassination not protect by the First Amendment to the Constitution.” Ad parody published twice “It will be the rare case indeed where this kind of behavior will ever be replicated, but where it occurs, it deserves the condemnation which the jury gave it, which the Fourth Circuit found, and which I respectfully submit the Court should affirm.”
After hearing both sides of the case, the final decision was made. Chief Justice Rehnquist delivered the opinion of the court. The Supreme Court announced that they reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals. In favor of the respondent, there were 8 votes for Hustler and 0 votes for the petitioner. They stated how actual malice was not proven. The respondent was clearly a public figure and will not be recovering the damages awarded to him by the Court of Appeals.
“Speech does not lose its protected character…simply because it may embarrass others or coerce them into action.” When the parody was published, it was stated that it was fake in the table of contents and on the page itself. When people become celebrities or public figures, they lose some of those rights that are stated in the trial.
"Hustler Magazine and Larry C. Flynt v. Jerry Falwell Case Brief | 4 Law School." Hustler Magazine and Larry C. Flynt v. Jerry Falwell Case Brief | 4 Law School. Accessed November 19, 2013. http://www.4lawschool.com/torts/hustler.shtml. "Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988)." Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988). Accessed November 6, 2013. http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/comm/free_speech/hustler.html. "Hustler Magazine v. Falwell." Findlaw. Accessed November 6, 2013. http://findlaw.com/us/485/46.html. "HUSTLER MAGAZINE v. FALWELL." Hustler Magazine v. Falwell. Accessed November 19, 2013. http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980- 1989/1987/1987_86_1278. Toomey, J. P. "How Far Is Too Far In Political Cartooning?" Shop Talk At Thirty, March 1, 1997, 48-49. Accessed November 6, 2013.