WGBH News reports – Thomas wrote that the court ought to overturn its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan decision and allow the states free rein in deciding what standards should prevail in libel suits. In Sullivan, the court ruled that to prove libel public officials would have to show defamatory material about them was published with the knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard as to whether it was true or false. That standard, known as “actual malice,” was later extended to public figures as well.

Now Thomas would reverse that. “The states are perfectly capable of striking an acceptable balance between encouraging robust public discourse and providing a meaningful remedy for reputational harm,” Thomas said. “We should reconsider our jurisprudence in this area.”


Clarence Thomas Wants To Eviscerate The First Amendment Thomas’ out-of-the-blue opinion shows that the battle for free speech is never completely won. Rather, it has to be fought, over and over again. Share More: https://www.wgbh.org/news/commentary/2019/02/20/clarence-thomas-wants-to-eviscerate-the-first-amendment