Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1st Circuit Denies Review of Libel Ruling

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today turned down a petition asking for an en banc hearing of the controversial decision Noonan v. Staples, in which a three-judge panel ruled that truth is not an absolute defense to libel. The order denying the petition states, in part: "Staples did not timely argue that the present matter was a matter of public concern or that the statute was unconstitutional as applied to a matter of private concern. . . . Further, Staples has not shown that the constitutional issue is so clear that the panel should have acted sua sponte to strike down a state statute. . . . . Staples still does not cite a case for the proposition that the First Amendment does not permit liability for true statements concerning matters of private concern. . . . And the Supreme Court has stated that as to matters of private concern, the First Amendment does "not necessarily force any change in at least some of the features of the common-law landscape." . . . Thus, whether § 92 is a "feature[] of the common-law landscape" left unchanged for matters of private concern is an issue on which we now take no position." Thanks to Media Law Blog for the information.

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