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Constitutional Limitations on Choice of Law: The Special Case of Multistate Defamation

60 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2011  

James R. Pielemeier

Hamline University School of Law

Date Written: January 1, 1985

Abstract

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.

Keywords: choice of law, multistate defamation, multistate, defamation, nonresident plaintiffs

Suggested Citation

Pielemeier, James R., Constitutional Limitations on Choice of Law: The Special Case of Multistate Defamation (January 1, 1985). University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Vol. 133, p. 381, 1985. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1929816

James R. Pielemeier (Contact Author)

Hamline University School of Law ( email )

1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104-1237
United States

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