Wednesday, July 18, 2007

OMG - Scalia Wants to Roll Back Rights of Publishers

In the seminal case of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court ruled that public figures could not sue newspapers for publishing stories -- even if false -- unless they had been written with "actual malice."

Folks of a certain age may remember the famous Paul Newman/Sallie Fields movie, "Absence of Malice."

The Sullivan case stemmed from news accounts of civil rights violations by Southern state officials, elites and general public.

Of course, the Jim Crow law abiding denizens then decided to teach the liberal media a legal lesson (and yes, this is where the bum rap label 'liberal media' was first coined: news accounts of the civil rights struggle that outraged Dixie).

At the time, a hefty punitive verdict by stauch supporters of segregation in the South was a certainty. Just consider the latest rash of bigotry in Prince William and Loudoun County and multiply it by at least 100.

Do you think a local newspaper, oh, like the Prince Wiliam Journal would ever take the risk of reporting of any thuggery by anti-immigration hooligans flamed by the rhetoric of Jackson Miller and his ilk with a peer jury of bigots?!?

Slate noted in a story yesterday that Scalia thinks New York Times v. Sullivan was wrongly decided as reported in a few brief lines in Norman Pearlstine's new book "Off the Record."
In an interview, Justice Antonin Scalia told me that given the chance, he would probably vote to reverse New York Times Co. v. Sullivan.
That's right, boys and girls. If it were up to the Scalias of the world, every time the media writes an unflattering story about a public official, get ready for everyone to lawyer-up; and then get ready for insurance companies to stop providing coverage; and before you know it, no more investigative reporting.

See how easy that was?!? Almost as easy as when Ronnie got rid of the Fairness Doctrine, which by the way Stephanie Miller is going to testify on the Hill on the subject tomorrow.

Gee, every time she thinks about it, Howling Latina can't help but wonder what might've been if only former Gov. Mario Mario Cuomo hadn't been all goo-goo and ga ga over "Nino."

Remember in 1986, the Democrats were firmly in control of the Senate. It's just like Mike Lex writes in Open Left. Democrats left the barn door open and a band of GOP thieves came in and stole our stock.

You see, Dems had no "sense of urgency."

Yes, Scalia was a bit of a wingnut, but progressives had enough justices to beat back any wingnutness. Never mind that the wingnuts were young and would go on to serve in the Courts for decades to come; or that stalwart progressives were on their last pair of legs with a banana peel under each foot.

The moral of the story is that Democrats must fight every battle with the faraway future in mind. If Dems had picked up their pitchforks (as GOPers are wont to do on principle alone) and filibustered Alito last year, Republicans would've been forced to fire up their threatened nuclear option and perhaps even won but...think of the Dems strategic position as the majority in Congress today with no worst for wear than Scalito on the bench, as happened anyway.

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