Scalia: Libel Ruling Was Wrong

Justice Antonin Scalia thinks the Supreme Court’s most significant decision on freedom of the press “was wrong.” During a joint appearance with Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the National Press Club Thursday evening, Scalia said “I think the Framers would have been appalled,” at the ruling in New York Times vs. Sullivan, the landmark case which turns 50 this spring. “It was revising the Constitution.” In 1964, the Supreme Court threw out a libel suit by a Montgomery, Ala., police commissioner against The New York Times, claiming he was defamed by an ad in the paper, though it did not name him. The ruling established that in order to sue a media outlet for libel, public officials must prove that a statement presented as fact was not only false but published with “actual malice” or “reckless disregard” for the truth.