TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Suzanne Craig Robertson on Mar 10, 2014

It has been 50 years since the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision in The New York Times v. Sullivan. This decision marked a profound change in the law of defamation, Jackson lawyer Dale Conder writes in an editorial for the Jackson Sun. Before Sullivan, defamation actions were strictly matters of state law, but this case changed that by declaring that the First Amendment’s protections of speech and the press limit a state’s power to award damages to a public official claiming a citizen or the press defamed him. For more on the history of libel law from 1964 through 1989, read this Tennessee Bar Journal article by Nashville lawyer John P. Williams, published when Sullivan was just 25 years old.