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  1. #1

    Default Times V Sullivan and the Equal Protection Clause

    I’m having trouble understanding how Times v. Sullivan, the SC decision which reinforced the the first amendment protections of speech and of the press by introducing the “Actual malice” requirement to prove slander and libel perpetrated against “Public figures” is compatible with the Equal Protection clause in the 14th amendment. Why doesn’t the existence of two classes of potential victims of the same crime with two different burdens of proof required to protect them not violate the equal protection principle?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Times V Sullivan and the Equal Protection Clause

    What crime are you talking about?

    The Sullivan decision arose out of a civil lawsuit filed by a local official in Alabama who claimed an advertisement that ran in the New York Times was libelous.

    That said, it is perhaps ironic that the Equal Protection Clause does not provide the same level of protection in every situation. The Equal Protection Clause is concerned with discrimination, but most discrimination is legal. For example, in hiring employees, it is legal to discriminate between those that have college degrees and those that don't. Discrimination on most bases is legal as long as there is a rational basis for it.

    It's also worth noting that, on occasion, two constitutional rights conflict, so one must yield to another.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Times V Sullivan and the Equal Protection Clause

    I’m not referring to any specific crime or case, rather the principle of two separate victims of the same defamation crime requiring two different standards to protect them under the law seems to me to violate the 14th amendment.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Times V Sullivan and the Equal Protection Clause

    Gertz v. Welch (1974) will explain more, issued several months after Sullivan, for a more detailed legal explanation of the liability needed in both. Look it up

  5. #5

    Default Re: Times V Sullivan and the Equal Protection Clause

    I’ll check it out - thank you!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Times V Sullivan and the Equal Protection Clause

    Oh, while I think of it, a good notable case to read on the subject is Falwell v. Hustler magazine and "parody" defamation.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Times V Sullivan and the Equal Protection Clause

    Quote Quoting Mike Phillips
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    I’m not referring to any specific crime or case, rather the principle of two separate victims of the same defamation crime requiring two different standards to protect them under the law seems to me to violate the 14th amendment.
    I addressed that. Also, while a few states still have criminal defamation crimes on the books, most don't, and even where it is on the books, it is almost never prosecuted as a crime. Defamation is almost always only a civil cause of action.

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