The Supreme Court and Libel

By Clifton O. Lawhorne | Go to book overview

8/ Privilege to Discuss Individuals "Private Libel" Confined by Gertz v. Welch

In the three-year period following the Supreme Court decision in Rosenbloom v. Metromedia, some seventeen states and six United States courts of appeals followed the plurality opinion in that case as ruling law. Specifically, they held that there could be no libel judgment for "discussion and communication involving matters of public or general concern" without proof of a calculated or reckless falsehood.1 One of these many holdings, in the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, came in the case of Gertz v. Welch. And this holding was reviewed by the Supreme Court, on a writ of certiorari, to "reconsider the extent of a publisher's constitutional privilege for defamation of a private citizen."2

Then, on 25 June 1974, a majority of the Supreme Court, mustered only because one justice felt a need to eliminate the "unsureness engendered by Rosenbloom's diversity," rejected the public issue rationale for libel cases.3 Instead, the Court in a 5-4 opinion stated in effect that the "ordinary citizen, when libeled by a publication defamatory on its face, must prove some degree of culpability on the part of the publisher beyond the circulation to the public of a damaging falsehood."4 It also held there had to be "competent evidence" of actual injury to reputation before any damages could be awarded.5Additionally there could be no presumed or punitive damages without proof that the publisher knew his communication was false or recklessly disregarded whether it was false or not. These standards were declared to be the "minimum" that states had to follow in awarding libel damages to private individuals.

For all practical purposes, the Court had adopted the view of the dissenters in the Rosenbloom case. The pendulum, in Gertz v. Welch, had swung in the opposite direction. With changes in the

-81-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Supreme Court and Libel
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 140

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.