Anonymous Sources, Libel Law, and the First Amendment

28 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2007

See all articles by Patrick M. Garry

Patrick M. Garry

University of South Dakota - School of Law


"Anonymous Sources, Libel Law, and the First Amendment" presents an analysis of constitutional doctrines governing the media's use of anonymous sources, as well as of the constitutional model of the First Amendment Press Clause that gave rise to those doctrines. The article examines the relevance of this Press Clause model, first developed in the 1960s, to the kinds of media that have evolved in the twenty-first century. To the extent this model is no longer applicable to the realities of the media industry, the constitutional doctrines government confidential sources may likewise have lost their relevance. Given this argument, this article offers a new theory of libel law as it pertains to the use of anonymous sources.

Keywords: First Amendment, Libel, Anonymous Sources, Confidential Sources, Media, Fourth Estate Theory

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Garry, Patrick M., Anonymous Sources, Libel Law, and the First Amendment. Temple Law Review, Vol. 78, No. 3, 2005. Available at SSRN:

Patrick M. Garry (Contact Author)

University of South Dakota - School of Law ( email )

414 E. Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
United States

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