First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
 
Gertz v. Welch (Docket #: 72-617) (1974)  [Findlaw]

Secondary Link Gertz v. Welch  [Legal Information Institute]
Argument Date 11/14/1973
Decided 06/25/1974
Supreme Court Vote 5-4
Note According to the Court's conference notes, the original vote in this case was 8-1 for Gertz. Also, the 7th Circuit opinion in this case was authored by then Judge John Paul Stevens.
Supreme Court Ruling First Amendment claim denied.
 
IssueTo what extent does a publisher (monthly newsletter) have a constitutional privilege against liability for defamation of a private citizen?
 
Case Summary & Additional Resources
Majority Opinion Powell, J.
Concurring Opinion Blackmun, J.
Dissenting Opinion Burger, C.J., & Douglas, J., & Brennan, J., & White, J.
Lower Court 7th Circuit
Lower Court Ruling First Amendment claim sustained
Oral Arguments Oral Arguments  [Oyez]
Lawyers
For Petitioner
Wayne B. Giampietro

For Respondent
Clyde J. Watts

News Stories & Commentary
AP, "High court won't hear newspaper's appeal in libel case" (6/1/2004)

"Cop, City Sued for $350,000 in Police Killing," Chicago Tribune, July 4, 1968, p. 3
"Ordinary Citizen Given Right to a Libel Suit Over False Report," New York Times, June 26, 1974, p. 89
MacKinzie, John, "High Court Makes Private Person's Libel Suit Easier," Washington Post, June 26, 1974, sect. A, p. 8
Page, Eric, "Elmer Gertz, a Top Lawyer, Is dead at 93: Won for Leopold, Ruby and Henry Miller," New York Times, April 29, 2000, sect. C, p. 20
Opinion - Lower Court
Gertz v. Welch, 322 F. Supp. 997 (N. Dist., Ill., 1970)
Gertz v. Welch, 471 F.2d 801 (7th Cir., 1972) (per Judge John Paul Stevens)
Other
Anderson, David A., "Libel and Press Self-Censorship," 53 Texas Law Review 422 (1975)
AP, "Study finds news media sued less but shell out more in damages" (3/6/06)

Ashdown, Gerald, "Gertz & Firestone: A Study in Constitutional Policy Making," 61 Minnesota Law Review 645 (1977)
Brosnahan, James J., "From Times v. Sullivan to Gertz v. Welch," 26 Hastings Law Journal 777 (1975)
Christie, George C., "Underlying Contradictions in the Supreme Court's Classification of Defamation," 1981 Duke Law Journal 811
Dennis, Everette, & Noam, Eli, editors, THE COSTS OF LIBEL: ECONOMIC & POLICY IMPLICATIONS (1989)
Dickson, Del, THE SUPREME COURT IN CONFERENCE (1940-1985): THE PRIVATE DISCUSSIONS BEHIND NEARLY 300 SUPREME COURT DECISIONS (2001), pp. 390-391
Eaton, Joel, "The American Law of Defamation Through Gertz v. Welch, Inc. and Beyond," 61 Virginia Law Review 1349 (1975)
FAC case summary

Frakt, Arthur, "The Evolving Law of Defamation," 6 Rutgers camden Law Journal 471 (1975)
Gertz, Elmer, GERTZ v. ROBERT WELCH, INC.: THE STORY OF A LANDMARK LIBEL CASE (1992)
Gutman, Howard, "The Attempt to Develop an Appropriate Standard of Liability for the Defamation of Public and Private People," 10 N.C. Cent. L. J. (1979)
LaRue, Lewis H., "Living with Gertz," 67 Virginia Law Review 287 (1981)
Levine, Lee J. (Student Note), "The Editorial Function & the Gertz Public Figue Standard," 87 Yale Law Journal 1723 (1978)
Nowak, John E. & Rotunda, Ronald D., CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (7th ed., 2004), sects. 16.15 & 16.16
Phillips, Jerry J., Defamation, Invasion of Privacy and the Standard of Care," 16 Santa Clara Law Review 77 (1975)
Robertson, David W., "Defamation and the First Amendment," 54 Texas Law Review 199 (1976)
Sack, Robert D., SACK ON DEFAMATION: LIBEL, SLANDER, & RELATED PROBLEMS (3rd ed., 2001), vol. I, sect. 1.2.6
Smith, Barry F., "The Rising Tide of Libel Litigation," 44 Montana Law Review 71 (1983)
Smolla, Rodney, SMOLLA & NIMMER ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH (1994), sect. 11.01[2]
Sprayer, Abigail, "Free Speech & Defamation Law -- Gertz v. Robert Wlech, Inc.," 51 Chicago Kent Law Review (no. 2, 1974)
Student Note, "Defining Cyberlibel: A First Amendment Limit for Libel Suits Against Individuals Arising From Computer Bulletin Board Speech," 46 Case Western Reserve Law Review 235 (1995)
Student Note, "The Gertz Doctrine & Internet Behavior," 84 Virginia Law Review 477 (1998)
Summary of Other Defamtion Cases (First Amendment Center)

Watkins, John J. & Schwartz, Charles W., "Gertz and the Common Law of Defmation," 15 Texas Tech Law Review 823 (1984)
Zuckman, Harvey, & Corn-Revere, Robert et al, MODERN COMMUNICATIONS LAW (1999), sects. 5.5 (B) & 5.7 (D) & 5.10
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