New York Times v. Sullivan 1964 (9-0)
An ad was placed in the NY Times to raise money for Civil Rights leaders
Sullivan demanded a retraction
Argued the ad defamed him as City Commissioner for the city of Montgomery
Sued for libel
There were some inaccuracies but were minor
For example, ad stated King arrested seven times when in fact it was four
Times refused to comply with the retraction
Sullivan sued- asked for $500,000 in damages
Trial was a sham- Times lost
Now, libel would be used as a political weapon to intimidate the press
South was trying to choke off a process that was educating the country about the harsh realities of racism in the South.
Strategy of intimidation spread throughout the South, by the time the case reached the Supreme Court, the South had brought forth nearly $300,000,000 in libel suits.
What would happen if the strategy worked?
Would it have made a difference in the progress of the Civil Rights Movement?
-Think of King’s tactics (Discuss)
The landmark case: New York Times v. Sullivan 1964
Established the “actual malice” standard