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Authors

Clay Calvert

Document Type

Article

Media Type

Text

Abstract

This article critiques, from a communication and law perspective, a proposal to add another element to the already complex calculus of constitutional libel law. The element--a subjective state of mind hurdle closely akin to the actual malice standard--requires libel plaintiffs to prove that defendants were aware of the defamatory meaning conveyed by their messages at the time of publication. The article suggests that while free speech and press interests under the First Amendment may militate in favor of courts adopting this element, it: 1) conflicts with tie reality of communication processes inherent in meaning determination; 2) denigrates the pivotal roles of the audience and message recipient in common law defamation; and 3) allows defendants who plead ignorance of meaning to escape liability despite causing real reputational harm to plaintiffs, jeopardizing the traditional goal of defamation law.

First Page

111

Last Page

140

Publication Date

11-1-1995

Department

Other

ISSN

0734-1490

Language

eng

Publisher

Northern Illinois University Law Review

Included in

Law Commons

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