Cheap Speech and the Gordian Knot of Defamation Reform

24 Pages Posted: 19 Sep 2023 Last revised: 16 Feb 2024

See all articles by Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky

Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky

University of Florida - Levin College of Law

Date Written: 2023

Abstract

This article addresses the complex past and uncertain future of defamation law in order to evaluate complaints lodged against it by critics, including—most notably--U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. The article describes how statutory and constitutional reforms have altered the legal landscape of defamation law over the past half-century and explains why the common law has played a less prominent role. The article then assesses the criticisms of Justices Thomas and Gorsuch, finding them to rest on flawed understandings of how today’s defamation law operates. After identifying barriers to reform, the article offers a prescription to modernize defamation law that would include new remedies to vindicate damaged reputations, new incentives for journalists to get the facts rights, and new deterrents to libel bullying.

Note: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of Free Speech Law originally available online at: https://www.journaloffreespeechlaw.org/lidsky.pdf

Keywords: free speech

Suggested Citation

Lidsky, Lyrissa Barnett, Cheap Speech and the Gordian Knot of Defamation Reform ( 2023). 3 J. of Free Speech L. 79 (2023), University of Florida Levin College of Law Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4555507

Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Levin College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 117625
Gainesville, FL 32611-7625
United States
352.392.2211 (Phone)
352.392.3005 (Fax)

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