Defamation Law: Libel And Slander

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The civil liberties that the American people have are inalienable rights. The most important of these is the freedom of speech. Yet freedom of speech is not entirely protected; using hurtful, false, or damaging speech is not allowed. But how can the American government control something as basic as speech? There are laws against libel and slander but how are they perpetrated? This essay will explain how the court cases and laws have evolved and been clarified throughout America’s history up to present day.

The meaning of libel is a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person. Now there have been hundreds of cases of libel in the United States. Some significant court cases are ones like New York Times Co. v Sullivan 376 U.S. 254 (1964). This case was about the alleged libel of Montgomery, Alabama. Commissioner L. B. Sullivan in the New York Times Magazine. The New York times supported Martin Luther King Jr. and his innocence in an alleged perjusry charge, Dr. king was accused of lieing under oath. This court case was one of the first major cases that established the principle of Actual Malice. Now Actual malice is the legal principle that the person printing the article had full knowledge that the statement was false or that the publisher acted recklessly in their disregard of finding if the statement was true or false. But the problem with this it is extremely hard to prove what is in a person’s head. This case was also a landmark case because before it, many news companies would not report on civil rights issues for fear of being sued for libel, but after this case companies were free to report on these issues. It allowed free speech to prevail in the United States. The case was seen as a...

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