Constitutional Limitations on Choice of Law: The Special Case of Multistate Defamation
James R. Pielemeier
Hamline University School of Law
January 1, 1985
University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 133, p. 381, 1985
In Keeton v. Hustler Magazine, Inc., the Supreme Court held that nonresident plaintiffs may sue publishers for defamation in any state where the publisher regularly circulates materials. Although defamation defendants are now subject to the jurisdiction of the courts in any state in which they regularly distribute materials, the conclusion that they may also be subject to the defamation laws of any state with jurisdiction does not automatically follow. This article explores constitutional constraints on choice of law in multistate defamation cases. It concludes that forum states are constitutionally restrained from applying to the entirety of a multistate defamation claim law that is more speech-inhibiting than that of a state that has a significant interest, relative to other states, in compensating the plaintiff. It also suggests that courts should reach similar results from sound application of well-accepted common law choice of law principles.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 60
Keywords: choice of law, multistate defamation, multistate, defamation, nonresident plaintiffs
Date posted: October 15, 2011
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