liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,
liz_marcs
liz_marcs

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Political Spam: How well do you know your U.S. Supreme Court?

EDIT: Oh my God! I have a clip of Palin answering Katie Couric's Supreme Court question, and it's every bit as bad as I thought.

To be fair, though, Couric did actually ask: "Name a Supreme Court decision you disagreed with (besides Roe v. Wade)." However, as someone in the comments mentioned, just this past June the Supreme Court handed down Exxon v Baker, which screwed over the state of Alaska...and Palin even issued a press release about it. In short, this question should have been a total gimme for Palin to answer. It's mind-boggling to me that she couldn't answer it.

*ahem*


meme snurched from annearchy

In an upcoming interview with Katie Couric to be aired this week, Sarah Palin is unable to name any Supreme Court Case other than Roe v. Wade.

The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historic, to your lj. (Any decision, as long as it's not Roe v. Wade.) FListers, please take the meme to your ElJay to spread the fun.

Note to Non-U.S. Peeps: It should be noted that, in fairness to the American electorate, most Americans can name more than one U.S. Supreme Court case off the top of their heads. So, the fact that Palin can only name one is simply appalling. (I tend to use that word — "appalling" — quite a lot when it comes to Palin. It's rather odd...)



So, here's mine. Try not to be shocked now...

In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which was handed down in 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially codified "celebrity" as a class and said they had less protections when pursuing libel or slander claims against the press.

Seriously.

The Sullivan decision essentially said that "public figures" (i.e., politicians, celebrities, business leaders with a public profile...you get the idea) have to prove "actual malice" if they had even a hope of winning a slander or libel case.

"Actual malice" in this case is defined as the following: when a reporter or publisher knows or should have known that a story or published statement is false, and yet still published it with "reckless disregard for the truth." (I love that quoted phrase so very much.)

This decision is important because it's one of the cornerstones of the free press in the U.S. It forced public figures (most especially politicians) to go the "extra step" in their claims of libel and slander. They need to have objective proof (in the form of third-party witnesses or an internal memo, for example) that a reporter knowingly wrote, or a newspaper knowingly published a false statement or libelous story. (Remember, libel is written, and slander is spoken.)

Short of hardcore proof, a public figure is SOL in the U.S. because the mere fact that a story in press is libelous isn't enough. The folks who published the story had to also know that it was lie before they published it. In practical matters, all any news organization has to do is show they made a good faith effort to either confirm or debunk the story before releasing it into the wild, and the public figure will only get a legal bill for his or her trouble.

By the same token, "the truth" is the ultimate defense against a charge of libel or slander...even if the target isn't a public figure. If someone is merely stating a truth that can be objectively verified, then the published story is not, by definition, libel.

Feel free to spread the meme!
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