Sixty well-known Americans signed it. In order to decide the merits of these cases properly, some or all of the following questions should have been faced: 1. This privilege extends to a great variety of subjects, and includes matters of public concern, public men, and candidates for office. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The consequence of all this melancholy series of events is that we literally do not know what we are acting on. Justice Brandeis , quoted supra, p.
In the area of basic national defense, the frequent need for absolute secrecy is, of course, self-evident. It may well be that, if these cases were allowed to develop as they should be developed, and to be tried as lawyers should try them and as courts should hear them, free of pressure and panic and sensationalism, other light would be shed on the situation, and contrary considerations, for me, might prevail. Sullivan Sailing to Segregation Background info Martin Luther King Jr. There has been much writing about the law and little knowledge and less digestion of the facts. Cowles, 195 Iowa 873, 889, 191 N. First, the letter written by the Times reflected a reasonable doubt on its part as to whether the advertisement could reasonably be taken to refer to respondent at all.
Alabama law denies a public officer recovery of punitive damages in a libel action brought on account of a publication concerning his official conduct unless he first makes a written demand for a public retraction and the defendant fails or refuses to comply. Where public matters are involved, the doubts should be resolved in favor of freedom of expression rather than against it. Again and again, the public interest calls for action which may turn out to be founded on a mistake, in the face of which an official may later find himself hard put to it to satisfy a jury of his good faith. The action was instituted by the respondent, Mr. Philip Randolph, Chairman of the Committee, certifying that the persons whose names appeared on the advertisement had given their permission. Moreover, a second half-million-dollar libel verdict against the Times based on the same advertisement has already been awarded to another Commissioner. Meiklejohn, Free Speech and Its Relation to Self-Government 1948.
These disclosures may have a serious impact. As to punitive damages, the judge instructed that mere negligence was not evidence of actual malice, and would not justify an award of punitive damages; he refused to instruct that actual intent to harm or recklessness had to be found before punitive damages could be awarded, or that a verdict for respondent should differentiate between compensatory and punitive damages. See City of Chicago v. King had been arrested only four times. The invalidity of the Act has also been assumed by Justices of this Court. Once it had begun publication of material from those volumes, the New York case now before us emerged.
It is plain to me that the scope of the judicial function in passing upon the activities of the Executive Branch of the Government in the field of foreign affairs is very narrowly restricted. The public benefit from publicity is so great, and the chance of injury to private character so small, that such discussion must be privileged. Sullivan when I see the Police Department. Before the commencement of such further proceedings, due opportunity should be afforded the Government for procuring from the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense or both an expression of their views on the issue of national security. A public figure is a person that puts themselves in the eye of the public, such as a politician or celebrity.
This places a very high burden of proof on the plaintiff in libel cases. In my view, the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution afford to the citizen and to the press an absolute, unconditional privilege to criticize official conduct despite the harm which may flow from excesses and abuses. Meanwhile, the Times has copyrighted its material, and there were strong intimations in the oral argument that the Times contemplated enjoining its use by any other publisher in violation of its copyright. The bombing of King's home took place before Sullivan became a city commissioner, and the Montgomery police were still trying to find the bombers. Even if there is some room for the judiciary to override the executive determination, it is plain that the scope of review must be exceedingly narrow.
The New York Times appealed the verdict. If a jury finds reckless disregard, it can award enormous damage awards against the press. The advertisement described actions against civil rights protesters, some of them inaccurately, some of which involved the police force of , Alabama. The Government's case here is based on premises entirely different from those that guided the Framers of the First Amendment. But none of them suggested any basis for the belief that respondent himself was attacked in the advertisement beyond the bare fact that he was in overall charge of the Police Department and thus bore official responsibility for police conduct; to the extent that some of the witnesses thought respondent to have been charged with ordering or approving the conduct or otherwise being personally involved in it, they based this notion not on any statements in the advertisement, and not on any evidence that he had, in fact, been so involved, but solely on the unsupported assumption that, because of his official position, he must have been. See Ex parte Virginia, , -347; American Federation of Labor v. Conley, Benjamin Spiegel, Raymond S.
See the 1804 Letter to Abigail Adams quoted in Dennis v. I hope that damage has not already been done. With all respect, I consider that the Court has been almost irresponsibly feverish in dealing with these cases. I agree with the Court that the Fourteenth Amendment made the First applicable to the States. There is no force in respondent's argument that the constitutional limitations implicit in the history of the Sedition Act apply only to Congress, and not to the States. The States accord the same immunity to statements of their highest officers, although some differentiate their lesser officials and qualify the privilege they enjoy. I would affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals in the Post case, vacate the stay of the Court of Appeals in the Times case, and direct that it affirm the District Court.
I strongly urge, and sincerely hope, that these two newspapers will be fully aware of their ultimate responsibilities to the United States of America. But it is impossible to know, in view of the general verdict returned. Such repression can be justified, if at all, only by a clear and present danger of the obstruction of justice. Unlike the Court, therefore, I vote to reverse exclusively on the ground that the Times and the individual defendants had an absolute, unconditional constitutional right to publish in the Times advertisement their criticisms of the Montgomery agencies and officials. The Times' failure to retract upon respondent's demand, although it later retracted upon the demand of Governor Patterson, is likewise not adequate evidence of malice for constitutional purposes. See Levy, Legacy of Suppression 1960 , at 258 et seq. But we are concerned here with the few documents specified from the 47 volumes.