Lies and the Press
Does Sullivan still serve free speech values in the digital age?
Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch have both recently advocated for the overturning of New York Times v. Sullivan, the case that Alexander Meiklejohn described as “an occasion for dancing in the streets.” For almost 60 years, Sullivan has made it very difficult for “public figures” to successfully sue news organizations for defamation. However, Sullivan has always been a controversial opinion. What some see as an important safeguard of press freedom, others see as an excuse for journalistic irresponsibility. This roundtable will discuss whether Thomas and Gorsuch are correct that, in the current media landscape, Sullivan no longer serves free speech values. More generally: Should Sullivan be limited? Expanded? Abolished? And what could, should, or might take its place?
The World Room, Pulitzer Hall, Columbia University, or Online
Pulitzer Hall, Columbia University, 2950 Broadway, New York, NY 10027
Steve Coll, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Robert C. Post, Yale Law School
Carrie Goldberg, Sexual Assault and Privacy Attorney
Nabiha Syed, The Markup
Genevieve Lakier, Knight First Amendment Institute
Note: Due to Columbia University’s COVID restrictions, only Columbia University students, faculty, and staff will be able to attend in person in the World Room at Columbia Journalism School. You must present a “green pass” in your ReopenCU app to enter. Everyone else is invited to join the conversation online. The link to the panel will be posted around 24 hours in advance of the event.
Former Board Member, 2017-2022
Knight Institute Senior Visiting Research Scholar 2021-2022; University of Chicago Law School
Robert C. Post