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First Amendment Library:
Ronald H. Surkin


This case requires us once more to "struggl[e] . . . to define the proper accommodation between the law of defamation and the freedoms of speech and press protected by the First Amendment." Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U. S. 323, 325 (1974). In Gertz, the Court held that a private figure who brings a suit for defamation cannot recover without some showing that the media defendant was at fault in publishing the statements at issue. Id., at 347. Here, we hold that, at least where a newspaper publishes speech of public *769 concern, a private-figure plaintiff cannot recover damages without also showing that the statements at issue are false.