The Right to Freedom of Expression: A Study on Protected Speech


Added on  2019-09-16

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Case Summary: Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46, 108 S. Ct. 876, 99 L. Ed.2d 41, 1988 U.S.Procedural PostureThe Appellate magazine in this case has appealed against the judgment of the UnitedStates Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in awarding damages of $150,000 infavour of the respondent, a fundamentalist minister; albeit, a public figure for invasion ofprivacy and infliction of emotional distress caused due to libel arising from a parody ofan advertisement.OverviewFalwell, the Respondent, brought an action against Hustler magazine and its publisher,Larry Flynt in the Federal district court for invasion of privacy, libel, and intentionalinfliction of emotional distress caused due to the slanderous publication an ad parodyfor Campari Ad Campaign. The jury verdict was in favour of Falwell thereby awardingmonetary damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The court of appealsaffirmed the award of the lower court. The Petitioner magazine appealed to the U.S.Supreme Court by a Certiorari claiming that the damages were inconsistent with theFirst Amendment. On review, the Court observed that that respondent, as a public figure, was required to show that the statements published in theadvertisement parody were made with actual malice or reckless disregard of thetruth that such an act was required to confirm to the standards of “actual malice”prescribed in the New York Case.[ CITATION Jef01 \l 1033 ]The award of damages by the lower court was inconsistent with the Court’srefusal to allow damages just because a particular form of speech may have hadan adverse emotional impact on the audience. Wherefore, judgment of theFourth Circuit was reversed.
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OutcomeThe judgment was reversed and was held that the parody did not make falsestatements that were implied to be true.Case Summary: Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. 418 U.S. 323 (1974)Procedural PostureThe Appellate in this case appealed to the Supreme Court against the decision of theUS Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which entered the jury’s verdict that theAppellate was a public figure and that the New York Times standard of actual maliceapplied in his case. Accordingly, the court of appeals affirmed the district court's grant ofa judgment notwithstanding the verdict in favor of respondent publisher.OverviewA young man was killed by a Chicago Police officer. The Petitioner, Gertz, an attorneywas retained by the family of the youth to represent them in the civil action. During thisperiod, respondent published an article about petitioner an active member of variouscommunist organizations besides having a number of criminal records. The Petitionertherefore, filed a case that for carrying such libelous article. The Federal court held thatthe New York Times standard applied, which meant that respondent escaped liabilityunless petitioner proved that a defamatory falsehood was published with actual malice.The district court entered judgment for respondent and the court of appeals affirmed.The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the petitioner was not a public figure and had not done anything to achieve publicfamethe respective states are free to establish standards of defamation for privateindividuals as compensating injury to the reputation of a private individualrequired a different rule.
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Appellate was a private figure and that the state had varied parameters tocompensate for the defamation caused to a private individualIn such a case where the state standard is lower than actual malice as applicable topublic figures, only actual damages may be awarded. Therefore, Gertz had to proveonly negligence and not actual malice.[ CITATION Elm92 \l 1033 ]The states could notpermit recovery of presumed or punitive damages absent a showing of knowledge offalsity or reckless disregard for the truth.OutcomeThe Court reversed the court of appeals' decision and held that the facts showedAppellate was a private figure and that the state had varied parameters to compensatefor the defamation caused to a private individual. Furthermore, actual damage in case ofprivate persons need not be proved as negligence is present. The case was remandedfor a new trial.First Amendment protection-for private individualsCase Summary: Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989)Procedural PostureThe Appellate State of Texas sought an appeal against the order of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas through the Writ of Certiorari, which reversed the trial court's decision that had convicted respondent of desecrating a flag in violation of Texas Law[ CITATION USL \l 1033 ]OverviewRespondent participated in a political demonstration where he burnt the American flag as a means of political protest against the Reagan Administration policies. He was tried and sentenced to one year jail and assessed $2,000 fine. The court of criminal appeals reversed the conviction and held that Johnson could not be punished as it was a “symbolic speech” protected by the First Amendment. The matter came up before the
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