posted on Jun, 13 2014 @ 11:21 AM
a reply to: RickyD
Actually, you've got that backwards. I had to take Business Law and memorize 150 Supreme Court cases for Poii Sci. The last bit was hell but it's
amazing how many times I've had to reference it to clarify bits of law as that is where the clarifications are on our amendments and legislation.
Please confirm it and I sure hope you haven't taken a test on the subject of defamation and public figures yet.
Public figures, under the eyes of the law, have little to no protections from libel or slander because they are a public figure. The ordinary
person walking down the street has more protections from libel and slander than a celebrity does. I think you must have misheard your professor.
The specific Supreme Court case that set the public figure precedent in the US was NY Times v. Sullivan. Basically, in the case of a public figure,
they have the additional burden of proving that malicious intent was behind the words. The reason why public figures have this additional layer of
difficulty in pressing defamation suits is because they are frequently politicians and may try to squelch negative press. Unless they can prove
malice, a political official cannot sue for defamation.
In terms of celebrities as public figures, they have a little more protection than a public figure who is a political official, Curtis Publishing v.
Butts allowed for public figures who are not political officials to sue if the information gathered was reckless and without check.
A private individual, like Powell, only has to prove that the utterer was negligent to bring forward a defamation suit. A public figure has to prove
actual malice--that the utterer knew the statement was false or that the information was gathered recklessly and unchecked (unverified). In terms of
online exchanges, the only other additional requirement that a private individual must meet is that they must demand a retraction for the statement
before bringing suit. No demand for retraction = no suit (Mathis v. Cannon).
Trust me, you've got it backwards. Powell has more protections against defamation than Miley Cyrus and Miley Cyrus has more protections against
defamation than Barack Obama. That's how it works. Protection from libel and slander are for private individuals but not public figures. Public
figures require additional burden of proof (malice, reckless and unchecked gathering) that a private individual does not need at all. Private
individuals, on the internet, must only prove negligence and demand a retraction before pressing suit.