Justice Clarence Thomas, writing in a defamation case against entertainer Bill Cosby, urged the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to reconsider its landmark decision requiring public figures to prove “actual malice” before they can recover any damages in defamation lawsuits.
Thomas described the 1964 high court precedent, New York Times v. Sullivan, and subsequent related cases, as “policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law.” Thomas wrote:
“We should not continue to reflexively apply this policy-driven approach to the Constitution. Instead, we should carefully examine the original meaning of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. If the Constitution does not require public figures to satisfy an actual-malice standard in state-law defamation suits, then neither should we.”
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