Free Press First Amendment Presentation + Quiz + Flashcards = 70 Slides!
The MAIN PRODUCT is a powerpoint presentation of American defamation law which is rooted in the First Amendment. The landmark case is "NYTimes v. Sullivan" and we move from there to "Gertz v. John Birch Society" to "Hustler v. Fallwell." Included is the hilarious parody of Falwell in the form of a Campari ad. We wind up with the latest in this law which is internet defamation, the new Speech Act and the concept of Libel Tourism.

There is also included a 20 point multiple choice QUIZ with answer key plus a complete set of FLASHCARDS for reviewing the presentation. The Flashcards can also be used for testing purposes and/or class discussion facilitation.

The author is a retired lawyer, instructor and textbook author.


Before the Sullivan decision, there were nearly US $300 million in libel actions outstanding against news organizations from the Southern states. This was causing many publications to be very cautious when reporting on the civil rights movement as they too were afraid of being sued. After The New York Times won this case in 1964, news organizations were free to report on what was going on in the civil rights movement, which was at a critical point. The Times maintained that Sullivan’s tactic, of being a public official and suing a news organization, was typical of those being brought to intimidate news organizations, preventing them from reporting illegal actions of public employees in the South who were continuing to support segregation.

Elmer Gertz, a lawyer representing a family in a wrongful death case, claimed he was libeled by the John Birch Society. The Society claimed he was a public figure. A policeman had shot the decedent in Gertz's case and the Society was pro police. The Supreme Court ruled that an attorney representing a client in court is not a public figure.

Both Flynt & Falwell were vocal about their positions in the Hustler case before the Supreme Court. Flynt had allowed his magazine to run a parody about Falwell that mocked his superior, morally upright attitude about everything, including both straight and gay sex. Falwell erupted in fury when he saw it. It did not help that he had zero sense of humor.

To solve the problem of libel tourism, the SPEECH Act makes foreign (outside of America) libel judgments unenforceable in U.S. courts, unless those judgments are compliant with the U.S. First Amendment.
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About this resource


Created: Oct 8, 2016

Updated: Feb 22, 2018


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