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Paul Merrell

The Ninth Circuit Holds-Correctly-That a Blogger Has the Same Defamation Protection as ... - 0 views

  • On January 17, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled, as a matter of first impression, that First Amendment defamation rules apply equally to both the institutional press and individual speakers and writers, such as bloggers.
  • In reaching this conclusion, the Ninth Circuit analyzed two key prior Supreme Court precedents: New York Times v. Sullivan (public official seeking damages for defamation must show “actual malice” as defined as a showing thatthe defendant published the defamatory statement with knowledge that it was false, or with reckless disregard as to whether it was false or not) and Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (First Amendment requires only a negligence standard for private defamation actions). Notably, Gertz involved an institutional media defendant, and the Gertz Court invoked the need to shield “the press and broadcast media from the rigors of strict liability for defamation.” Yet neither New York Times nor Gertz, as the Ninth Circuit noted, were expressly limited to the institutional press. Moreover,a number of other Supreme Court cases have rejected such a limitation: Bartnicki v. Vopper; Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.; First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti; and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
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