Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday renewed his yearslong attack on a landmark First Amendment decision, with the conservative jurist again calling for the Supreme Court to revisit the “flawed” ruling in the 1964 case.
The decades-old case, New York Times v. Sullivan, created a higher bar for public figures to claim libel and has been a bedrock of US media law. But some conservatives, including former President Donald Trump, have frequently taken aim at it, arguing it provides too much protection to news outlets.
As part of a separate case decided Tuesday, the majority invoked Sullivan when it wiped away a lower court decision upholding the stalking conviction of a Colorado man who sent hundreds of messages to a woman over Facebook. The 7-2 ruling said it would suffice for prosecutors to show that the speaker was aware that his speech could be viewed as a threat and that the speech was reckless, even if not intentionally threatening.
In a fiery two-page dissent, Thomas criticized his colleague’s use of the Sullivan case, saying they were wrong to apply it to the matter at hand and calling again for the high court to take another look at the landmark ruling.
He said his dissent intended to “address the majority’s surprising and misplaced reliance on New York Times Co. v. Sullivan,” and quoted from previous dissents he’s penned in which he has called into question the 1964 ruling.