(FiveNation.com)- Clarence Thomas said Monday that the Supreme Court should review libel rules that make suing a media firm more difficult. He disagreed with the Court’s decision not to hear Coral Ridge v. SPLC, which would have questioned New York Times v. Sullivan.
He said in his dissent that he’d grant certiorari to reconsider “actual malice.” This case shows how the New York Times and its progeny have allowed media organizations and interest groups to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.
Thomas wrote that SPLC’s ‘hate organization’ label included Coral Ridge’s Christian outreach. It put Coral Ridge on an internet ‘Hate Map’ and excluded it from AmazonSmile. He concluded that Coral Ridge could not hold SPLC accountable for what they say is a blatant lie. Thomas believes this has to be reexamined.
SPLC called Coral Ridge a “hate group” on its website, fundraising materials, and training programs because they say they are anti-gay.
Coral Ridge attorney David C. Gibbs III said that the Court’s ‘actual-malice’ standard, invented for a particular time and purpose, has become obsolete and does not serve any of the interests it was designed to protect by limiting private individuals from bringing defamation claims against other private companies or individuals.
He said that “Sullivan” no longer works as a bulwark to preserve civil rights but rather a sword used to bash public figures with impunity while hiding behind this Court’s misguided understanding of the First Amendment.
The SPLC labels organizations and individuals “hateful” based on feelings and seldom actual data. They launch attack articles on investigative journalists they don’t like, like The Post Millennial’s Andy Ngo, and accuse other journalists of being anti-semitic, despite sufficient evidence.
The New York Times v. Sullivan centered on an ad defending Martin Luther King Jr. The commercial had factual mistakes, and Montgomery, Alabama’s Public Safety Commissioner, sued for libel, despite not being identified. Sullivan was granted damages in Alabama. The Supreme Court decided against Sullivan, finding that “public authorities must achieve a higher burden for libel awards and establish publisher knew something was incorrect.”
In this instance, the phrase “actual malice” was coined, indicating the media organization had to have knowingly made the assertions “with the knowledge that it was untrue or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”
Proving “actual malice” in court is extremely tough.