Lies and the Press
Piotr Szyhalski

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?

Lies and the Law

Related Lies and the Law blogs

The Media Will Be All Right
Carrie Goldberg

Sullivan is Not the Problem
Nabiha Syed


Follow the conversation #LiesandtheLaw


  • The World Room, Pulitzer Hall, Columbia University, or Online

    Pulitzer Hall, Columbia University, 2950 Broadway, New York, NY 10027

    Introductory Remarks 

    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

    Moderated by 

    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.