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Rosenblatt v. Baer

United States Supreme Court
383 U.S. 75 (1966)


Facts

Baer (plaintiff), a governmental supervisor of a county recreation area primarily used as a ski resort, filed suit against Rosenblatt (defendant), a columnist in the Laconia Evening Citizen, claiming that Rosenblatt made defamatory statements against him pertaining to the fiscal management of the resort. After a trial, Rosenblatt was found liable and the court awarded damages to Baer. While Rosenblatt’s appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court was pending, the United States Supreme Court decided N.Y. Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), in which the Court held that a qualified privilege shields a speaker from liability for an allegedly defamatory statement relating to the official conduct of a public official, unless it was shown by the public official that the speaker’s statement was made with actual malice, namely that the statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. The New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether Baer was a public official pursuant to the holding in Sullivan.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Brennan, J.)

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