Defamation and Privacy
In new york times v. sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S. Ct. 710, 11 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1964), the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment protects open and robust debate on public issues, even when such debate includes "vehement, caustic,unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials." In Sullivan, a public official claimed that allegations about him that had appeared in the New York Times were false, and he sued the newspaper for libel. The Court balanced the plaintiff's interest in preserving his reputation against the public's interest in freedom of expression, particularly in the area of political debate. It decided that, in order to recover damages, a public official must prove actual malice, which is knowledge that the statements were false or that they were made with reckless disregard of whether they were false.