Turley: Trump Talking About Changing Libel Laws ‘Troubling’ – Current Law ‘the Very Embodiment of American Values’

On Thursday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley commented on President Trump’s call to change libel laws by stating such calls are troubling and changing the standard would require Supreme Court justices who want to “basically eradicate the protections for free speech and the free media.”

Turley said, “[T]he defamation standard, which is — which was articulated in a case called New York Times v. Sullivan, is the very embodiment of American values. It is anchored in the First Amendment. It’s enormously important. It allows average citizens to be able to criticize public figures. And what the president is talking about when people say something that’s knowingly false, that’s not barred by New York Times v. Sullivan. If you say something knowingly false, you have a defamation case.”

He added, “I — what I find troubling is not that he will succeed, but that he is still suggesting that we should lower that standard. It is such a fundamental part of our constitutional system, but in order to change the standard, you have to do one of two things. You have to amend the First Amendment, or you have to change the makeup of the Supreme Court and really fill it with people with the most extreme views of the First Amendment, to basically eradicate the protections for free speech and the free media. And that’s what’s so troubling about this, it’s not the threat that it will succeed, but it’s the desire.”

(h/t Grabien)

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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