Patterico's Pontifications


Blogging Mayoral Marriage Matters

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General,Miscellaneous — Justin Levine @ 10:49 am

[posted by Justin Levine – not Patterico, who takes absolutely no responsibility for turning this site into a hotbed of depraved political gossip.] 

Speaking of not having actual malice, did you manage to check out how my good friend and perpetual client Luke Ford has been stiring up trouble with the L.A. Mayor’s office? After Luke managed to goad the L.A. Times about its laziness, even their reporting now subtly seems to suggest that perhaps he may be on to something. 

[This all is not to be confused with a certain other Mayor in California who made the news recently.]

Maliciously Redefining “Actual Malice”

[posted by Justin Levine] 

Another frightening attempt by the state to kill blogging in one fell swoop. Fortunately, the proposed bill has apparently died a quick death.  [Hat-tip:  Instapundit]
This sorry episode brings to mind a point that many don’t seem to appreciate regarding the definition of “actual malice”. The concept was created by the Supreme Court in order to insure a minimum level of protection under the First Amendment to the (federal) Constitution. As a result, I would contend that “actual malice” is not subject to being redefined by states in any manner. This seems elementary to me.

Naturally, a state is free to enact its own definition of “actual malice” that gives greater free speech protections than the federal Constitution, but it certainly cannot restrict or minimize the definition in any way. This would be like saying that an individual state has the ability to unilaterally redefine the phrase “unreasonable search and seizure” in such a way that it could essentially choose to ignore any Supreme Court rulings on the Fourth Amendment. Everyone knows it can’t do that. Yet for some reason, people seem to think that states should be free to disregard Supreme Court rulings related to the First Amendment. Quite bizarre in my view.

Perhaps the main problem is that the phrase “actual malice” still remains an amorphous legal concept in the eyes of many. The vagueness that attaches itself to the term allows a great deal of wiggle room for those who would wish to enact greater restrictions on speech. Attempts at restricting the Constitutional definition of “actual malice” deliberately feed off of this ignorance.  

Even subtle attempts at redefining the term can have very negative consequences. Take California’s attempt to define “actual malice” for instance [Civil Code 48(d)]:

Site Back Up

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:42 am

The site was down most of last night, as were a number of other blogs hosted by Hosting Matters. The problem is described here, but seems to be fixed. Something about a cut line.

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