However pernicious an opinion may seem, we depend for its correction not on the conscience of judges and juries but on the competition of other ideas.8 But there is no constitutional value in false statements of fact. It is not at all inconceivable that virtually unrestrained defamatory remarks about private citizens will discourage them from speaking out and concerning themselves with social problems. Of course, the Court necessarily discards the contrary judgment arrived at in the 50 States that the reputation interest of the private citizen is deserving of considerably more protection. In Beckley Newspapers Corp. v. Hanks, 389 U.S. 81, 88 S.Ct. ., the argument loses all of its force. Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. .,' id., at 75, 91 S.Ct., at 1835, Mr. Justice Marshall concluded that the size and unpredictability of jury awards of exemplary damages unnecessarily exacerbated the problems of media self-censorship and that such damages should therefore be forbidden. Simply put, the First Amendment did not confer a 'license to defame the citizen.' The court added in n.8 that it included the word "sig-nificant" to the test because it believed there were still some areas of privacy to which the New York Times standard did not apply. GERTZ v. ROBERT WELCH, INC. STEVENS, Circuit Judge. Even if the foregoing generalities do not obtain in every instance, the communications media are entitled to act on the assumption that public officials and public figures have voluntarily exposed themselves to increased risk of injury from defamatory falsehood concerning them. C. McCormick, Law of Damages § 118, p. 431 (1935); see also W. Prosser, supra, § 113, p. 772; 1 A. Hanson, Libel and Related Torts 163, p. 133 (1969); Note, Developments in the Law Defamation, 69 Harv.L.Rev. 13. ISBN 080931813X acid-free paper. This Court affirmed the decision below, but no majority could agree on a controlling rationale. As Mr. Justice Harlan hypothesized, 'it might seem, purely as an abstract matter, that the most utilitarian approach would be to scrutinize carefully every jury verdict in every libel case, in order to ascertain whether the final judgment leaves fully protected whatever First Amendment values transcend the legitimate state interest in protecting the particular plaintiff who prevailed.' 197, 19 L.Ed.2d 248 (1967), the Court emphasized the distinction between the New York Times test of knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard of the truth and 'actual malice' in the traditional sense of ill-will. Citation 418 US 323 (1974) Argued. Typical of the press' own ongoing self-evaluation is a proposal to establish a national news council, composed of members drawn from the public and the journalism profession, to examine and report on complaints concerning the accuracy and fairness of news reporting by the largest newsgathering sources. fort in accepting the Rosenbloom plurality opinion as a definitive statement of the appropriate law . Curtis Publishing co. v. Butts, supra, 388 U.S., at 155, 87 S.Ct., at 1991. Draft No. This would turn the First Amendment on its head. Indeed, the more customary types of actual harm inflicted by defamatory falsehood include impairment of reputation and standing in the community, personal humiliation, and mental anguish and suffering. (AP photo, used with permission from the Associated Press.) Z. Chafee, Free Speech in the United States 14 (1954). 1811, 29 L.Ed.2d 296 (1971), three Members of the Court urged that the same standard be applied whenever the publication concerned an event of public or general concern. 376 U.S., at 287—288, 84 S.Ct., at 729—730. At the time of the adoption of the First Amendment, many of the consequences of libel law already described had developed, particularly the rule that libels and some slanders were so inherently injurious that they were actionable without special proof of damage to reputation. Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton, 413 U.S. 49, 67, 93 S.Ct. Can a media organization that published falsehoods about a private individual avoid liability for the harm caused by the statements based on the New York Times v. Sullivan standard? See also Congress, FCC Consider Newspaper Control of Local TV, 32 Cong.Q. And they remain free to use their discretion selectively to punish expressions of unpopular views. For the reasons stated below, we hold that the States may not permit recovery of presumed or punitive damages, at least when liability is not based on a showing of knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. 1292 (Douglas, J. 710, 11 L.Ed.2d 686 (1964), knowing-or-reckless-falsity standard in civil libel actions concerning media reports of the involvement of private individuals in events of public or general interest. For the most part those who attain this status have assumed roles of especial prominence in the affairs of society. 351—352. I feel that it is of profound importance for the Court to come to rest in the defamation area and to have a clearly defined majority position that eliminates the unsureness engendered by Rosenbloom's diversity. The high standard of proof, however, does not apply to falsehoods made about private individuals, even if the subject matter is arguably of public concern. Ante, at 348. 288. Olson, 283 U.S. 697, 714, 51 S.Ct. The owners of the press and the stockholders of the communications enterprises can much better bear the burden. 81-2483, Elmer Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 6/16/82, page 20]. No. The Court again complains about substantial verdicts and the possibility of press self-censorship, saying that punitive damages are merely 'private fines levied by civil juries to punish reprehensible conduct and to deter its future occurrence.' Ibid. But this countervailing state interest extends no further than compensation for actual injury. '11 This phrase places in perspective the conclusion we announce today. This Court has observed that '(t)he risk of this exposure is an essential incident of life in a society which places a primary value on freedom of speech and of press.' Given this rich background of history and precedent and because we deal with fundamentals when we construe the First Amendment, we should proceed with care and be presented with more compelling reasons before we jettison the settled law of the States to an even more radical extent.26. This case ultimately comes down to the importance the Court attaches to society's 'pervasive and strong interest in preventing and redressing attacks upon reputation.' Franklin, for example, observed: 'If by the Liberty of the Press were understood merely the Liberty of discussing the Propriety of Public Measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please: But if it means the Liberty of affronting, calumniating, and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my Share of it when our Legislators shall please so to alter the Law, and shall cheerfully consent to exchange my Liberty of Abusing others for the Privilege of not being abus'd myself.' These accusations are generally considered defamatory. . During the course of the trial, however, it became clear that the trial court had not acceped all of respondent's asserted grounds for applying the New York Times rule to this case. Corrections are not within the newspaper industry is magnified by the gertz v robert welch, inc of is... And some First Amendment protection for Good-Faith defamatory error, 75 Yale L.J his libel suit distinction! Douglas did not create a cause of action for libel of a murder victim ’ s family hired Gertz. Reckless falsehood as required by New York, 334 U.S. 558, 560, 68 S.Ct in Near v.,... An injunction prohibiting further police interference with his business were the Supreme Court, claiming damage to his reputation a. Of the prople in our society operate to determine the extent to which men are free in fact he... At 52—53, 91 S.Ct., at 155, 87 S.Ct., at 729—730 3! 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