Monday, March 28, 2005

Supreme Court Won't Rule on 'Neutral Reporting Privilege'

The Los Angeles Times (free registration required) has this story on a United States Supreme Court decison released today:

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court refused Monday to shield the news media from being sued for accurately reporting a politician's false charges against a rival.

Instead, the justices let stand a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that a newspaper can be forced to pay damages for having reported that a city councilman called the mayor and the council president "liars," "queers" and "child molesters."

The case turned on whether the First Amendment's protection for the freedom of the press includes a "neutral reporting privilege." Most judges around the nation have said the media do not enjoy this privilege.

Lawyers for more than two dozen of the nation's largest media organizations, including the Tribune Co., which publishes the Los Angeles Times, had urged the court to take up the Pennsylvania case and to rule that truthful news reports on public figures deserved to be shielded......

Read the rest here.

Patterico has his take here.

I, too, wonder what Volokh will opine.

Talk about a chilling effect on the reporting of news. The modern press has always had a neutral reporting exclusion.

The MSM bar will not allow this ruling to stand when this case is retried at the trial court level and then appealed.

Sullivan vs. New York Times Co. will be simply reinterpreted/redecided with a modern spin and the neutral reporting exclusion restated.

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