New York Times v. Sullivan Supreme Court decision: Freedom of Speech or a License to Lie?

Nancy L. Gomez


This paper explores the freedom of speech and of the press precedent set by New York Times Co, v. Sullivan with regard to three ethical philosophies and social responsibility standards. This paper argues that the freedom of speech doctrine, as held in NY Times Co, v. Sullivan goes too far in protecting lies, falsity, and misrepresentation of facts. It asserts that the malicious intent requirement of law is too restrictive, truth should be the critical determining quality for freedom of speech even when it involves public and government officials, and that morality demands truth of the law. It further asserts that where the truth can easily or reasonably be known, publishers of falsity should be held liable, even absent proof of malice.

Keywords: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, actual malice, truth in media, Sullivan, New York Times Co., libel, defamation, civil rights, public accountability

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3267 ISSN (Online)2224-3275

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