Logourl black
From our private database of 14,200+ case briefs...

Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts

United States Supreme Court
388 U.S. 130 (1967)


Facts

This case involves the applicability of New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), to two previously-decided cases involving public figures but not public officials. In Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 351 F.2d 702 (5th Cir.1965), Wally Butts (plaintiff), a college football coach, was accused of conspiring to fix a major game by giving crucial information to the other team. The Saturday Evening Post, published by Curtis Publishing Co. (Curtis) contained a story about the incident saying that Butts was under investigation and “would likely never” work in college football again. Butts sued Curtis for libel and a jury awarded him $60,000 in general damages and $3,000,000 in punitive damages. After New York Times was decided, Curtis requested a new trial, but it was denied on the grounds that New York Times did not apply because Butts was not a public officials, and that ample evidence existed in the record showing the article was published with reckless disregard for the truth. In Associated Press v. Walker (1965), a reporter from the Associated Press (defendant) published an eyewitness account of a riot on a university campus over the enrollment of an African American student, James Meredith. The story said that James Walker (plaintiff) took command over the crowd and personally led their uprising against the federal marshals who were dispatched to enforce the court-ordered enrollment of Meredith. Walker, a decorated military veteran, said he merely “counseled restraint” to the students and had not taken part in challenging the federal marshals. Walker sued the Associated Press for libel, and was awarded $500,000 in compensatory and $300,000 in punitive damages. The decision was affirmed on appeal. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari over both cases.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Harlan, J.)

Concurrence (Warren, C.J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Black, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 241,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,200 briefs, keyed to 189 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.