Sarah Palin’s libel trial against New York Times: Day One coverage

In that case, New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court ruled that for a public figure to recover damages in a defamation case, she must prove not only that the statement was defamatory but also that it was made with “actual malice” — a much higher burden than proving simple negligence, the standard in libel lawsuits filed by private citizens. The 1960s-era court reasoned that the more difficult burden of proof was required by the First Amendment, to enable debate on public issues, even when such debates include “vehement, caustic, unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

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