By Anthony Lewis
The 1st modification places it this fashion: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the liberty of speech, or of the press." but, in 1960, a urban professional in Montgomery, Alabama, sued the recent York occasions for libel -- and was once presented $500,000 by way of an area jury -- as the paper had released an advert serious of Montgomery's brutal reaction to civil rights protests. The centuries of criminal precedent in the back of the Sullivan case and the U.S. ultimate Court's old reversal of the unique verdict are expertly chronicled during this gripping and fantastically readable booklet via the Pulitzer Prize -- profitable criminal journalist Anthony Lewis. it truly is our greatest account but of a case that redefined what newspapers -- and traditional voters -- can print or say.
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Extra resources for Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment
He tried one of the largest firms in Birmingham; it said no, speaking vaguely of a possible conflict of interest. He finally succeeded with a Birmingham firm that was something of a maverick, Beddow, Embry & Beddow; it had defended a large number of blacks charged with crime. T. Eric Embry agreed to represent the Times. The reason for the difficulty in finding Alabama counsel was of course race. State and local politicians had whipped up outrage against The New York Times over the advertisement, denouncing the paper as an interfering Northern agitator.
Embry’s motion to quash the service of process came before Judge Jones in a hearing that started on July 25, 1960. Over several days lawyers argued about the extent of the Times’s connections with the State of Alabama: the copies circulated there, the payments to stringers, the advertisements from Alabama. On August 5 Judge Jones ruled that the Times did enough business in the state to be subject to the jurisdiction of its courts. And in the event that higher courts said he was wrong about that, he also found jurisdiction on an alternative ground: that Embry had made a mistake in drafting his motion to quash and inadvertently made a “general appearance,” thus bringing the Times within the reach of the state courts.
Who is a defendant corporation’s “agent”? How can the necessary papers be served so that they are legally binding? Can a distant party be forced to answer in the courts of another state at all? L. B. Sullivan began his libel action against The New York Times by having papers served on its Montgomery stringer, Don McKee. McKee worked full time as a journalist for the Montgomery Advertiser, and he did very little for the Times; in the year 1960 he earned just ninety dollars as a stringer. But Sullivan’s lawyers said that was enough to make him a Times agent in Alabama.