Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Of Libel Language and the Law

54 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2010  

Sheldon W. Halpern

Albany Law School

Date Written: 1990


This Article is an exploration of the current state of the law of defamation now that a quarter century has passed since the landmark New York Times v. Sullivan opinion. With that case, the Supreme Court began a process of constitutionalization that has produced a chaotic system that fails to meet the great objective of accommodating the individual's interest in reputation to the strictures of the first amendment. Professor Halpern examines Sullivan and its progeny, placing a realistic perspective on a doctrine that has become accepted notwithstanding its formation through shaky Court majorities and less than compelling logic and suggests an approach toward accommodation of the apparently irreconcilable interests. To realize the ideals of Sullivan without punishing innocent error or leaving the victim of defamation helpless, the author proposes, in place of the present fragmented, confusing, and unsatisfying array of criteria and requirements, a unitary system of practice, damages, and fault predicated on concepts of professionalism.

Suggested Citation

Halpern, Sheldon W., Of Libel Language and the Law (1990). North Carolina Law Review, Vol. 68,p. 273, 1990. Available at SSRN:

Sheldon W. W. Halpern (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States
614-599-1118 (Phone)

Paper statistics

Abstract Views