Former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin lost her slander suit against The New York Times (after the presiding judge telegraphed to the jury, while it was deliberating, that he’d set aside the jury verdict, but that’s for a story about judicial malfeasance). The Wall Street Journal‘s article centered its reporting on the premise that Palin had failed to pass the high bar reserved for celebrities and other public figures: she had to show actual malice in order to have a case, and she didn’t succeed in the judge’s opinion.
But case brings up a larger matter regarding the malice standard itself.
There’s no reason at all why some Americans should be prevented by that high bar from defending themselves against slander, while other Americans are not so prevented. The 14th Amendment to our Constitution is quite clear on this: No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The courts’ and the Court’s differential treatment of groups of Americans based solely on their social or political standing plainly violates that equal treatment clause.