ARTICLE: MEDIA DEFENDANTS, PUBLIC CONCERNS, AND PUBLIC PLAINTIFFS: TOWARD FASHIONING ORDER FROM CONFUSION IN DEFAMATION LAW. + Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1987 The University of Pittsburgh Law Review
University of Pittsburgh Law Review

ARTICLE: MEDIA DEFENDANTS, PUBLIC CONCERNS, AND PUBLIC PLAINTIFFS: TOWARD FASHIONING ORDER FROM CONFUSION IN DEFAMATION LAW. +



+ Copyright 1987, University of Pittsburgh Law Review.

FALL, 1987

49 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 91

Author

Arlen W. Langvardt *

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

For the past twenty-three years the Supreme Court has wrestled with the ever-present problem of determining the extent to which the first amendment must play a role in the law of defamation. 1 The Court's defamation decisions during that time have centered around a perceived need to effect a proper balancing of speakers' first amendment freedoms of speech and press 2 and the legitimate interests that those who are the subjects of others' statements have in preserving their respective reputations and good names. 3 The path toward such a balance has been both irregular 4 and interminable. 5

Such balancing attempts have led to the adoption of different governing constitutional standards, depending upon the status of the plaintiff. 6 The constitutional requirements have been held to differ depending upon whether the plaintiff falls within the public official 7 -public figure 8 arena or instead is a private figure. 9 Despite this development, the extent of the first amendment's reach into the common law of defamation has remained unclear and has become the subject of debate among members of the Supreme Court. 10

The Court continues to disagree over whether the status oriented rules lead to a proper balancing of conflicting reputational interests and first amendment rights. 11 In addition, the Court has contributed to the ongoing uncertainty in defamation law by providing ambiguous, and sometimes conflicting, signals concerning whether the defamation defendant's status as a member or nonmember of the media must be thrown into ...
 
 
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