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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Donald Trump Revives Call To 'Change Libel Laws' #ManchurianPresident is dumb,,dumber and just plain stupid. Trump has lawyers. There is no doubt about First Amendment protection of opinions and mistakes of fact. Trump is a public figure.

#ManchurianPresident is dumb,,dumber and just plain stupid.   Trump has lawyers. There is no doubt about First Amendment protection of opinions and mistakes of fact.  Trump is a public figure.

..."We hold today that the Constitution delimits a State's power to award damages for libel in actions brought by public officials against critics of their official conduct. Since this is such an action, [n23] the rule requiring proof of actual malice is applicable. While Alabama law apparently requires proof of actual malice for an award of punitive damages, [n24] where general damages are concerned malice is "presumed." Such a presumption is inconsistent [p284] with the federal rule. "The power to create presumptions is not a means of escape from constitutional restrictions," Bailey v. Alabama, 219 U.S. 219, 239, "the showing of malice required for the forfeiture of the privilege is not presumed but is a matter for proof by the plaintiff. . . ." Lawrence v. Fox, 357 Mich. 134, 146, 97 N.W.2d 719, 725 (1959). [n25] Since the trial judge did not instruct the jury to differentiate between general and punitive damages, it may be that the verdict was wholly an award of one or the other. But it is impossible to know, in view of the general verdict returned. Because of this uncertainty, the judgment must be reversed and the case remanded. Stromberg v. California, 283 U.S. 359, 367-368; Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U.S. 287, 291-292; see Yates v. United States, 354 U.S. 298, 311-312; Cramer v. United States, 325 U.S. 1, 36, n. 45.

Since respondent may seek a new trial, we deem that considerations of effective judicial administration require us to review the evidence in the present record to determine [p285] whether it could constitutionally support a judgment for respondent. This Court's duty is not limited to the elaboration of constitutional principles; we must also in proper cases review the evidence to make certain that those principles have been constitutionally applied. This is such a case, particularly since the question is one of alleged trespass across "the line between speech unconditionally guaranteed and speech which may legitimately be regulated." Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 525. In cases where that line must be drawn, the rule is that we

examine for ourselves the statements in issue and the circumstances under which they were made to see . . . whether they are of a character which the principles of the First Amendment, as adopted by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, protect.

Pennekamp v. Florida, 328 U.S. 331, 335; see also One, Inc., v. Olesen, 355 U.S. 371; Sunshine Book Co. v. Summerfield, 355 U.S. 372. We must "make an independent examination of the whole record," Edwards v. South Carolina, 372 U.S. 229, 235, so as to assure ourselves that the judgment does not constitute a forbidden intrusion on the field of free expression. [n26]

Applying these standards, we consider that the proof presented to show actual malice lacks the convincing [p286] clarity which the constitutional standard demands, and hence that it would not constitutionally sustain the judgment for respondent under the proper rule of law. The case of the individual petitioners requires little discussion. Even assuming that they could constitutionally be found to have authorized the use of their names on the advertisement, there was no evidence whatever that they were aware of any erroneous statements or were in any way reckless in that regard. The judgment against them is thus without constitutional support.

As to the Times, we similarly conclude that the facts do not support a finding of actual malice. The statement by the Times' Secretary that, apart from the padlocking allegation, he thought the advertisement was "substantially correct," affords no constitutional warrant for the Alabama Supreme Court's conclusion that it was a

cavalier ignoring of the falsity of the advertisement [from which] the jury could not have but been impressed with the bad faith of The Times, and its maliciousness inferable therefrom.

The statement does not indicate malice at the time of the publication; even if the advertisement was not "substantially correct" -- although respondent's own proofs tend to show that it was -- that opinion was at least a reasonable one, and there was no evidence to impeach the witness' good faith in holding it. 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. Whether or not a failure to retract may ever constitute such evidence, there are two reasons why it does not here. 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. Second, it was not a final refusal, since it asked for an explanation on this point -- a request that respondent chose to ignore. Nor does the retraction upon the demand of the Governor supply the [p287] necessary proof. It may be doubted that a failure to retract, which is not itself evidence of malice, can retroactively become such by virtue of a retraction subsequently made to another party. But, in any event, that did not happen here, since the explanation given by the Times' Secretary for the distinction drawn between respondent and the Governor was a reasonable one, the good faith of which was not impeached...."

Donald Trump Revives Call To 'Change Libel Laws'

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