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Herbert v. Lando - Significance, Significant Facts, The State Of The Law In 1979, The Court's Analysis

plaintiff petitioner justices decision


Anthony Herbert


Barry Lando, et al.

Petitioner's Claim

In a libel suit, a plaintiff should have the right to discover and inquire into the editorial process and states of mind of those responsible for the publication, in order to meet plaintiff's burden of proving "actual malice."

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Jonathan W. Lubbell

Chief Lawyer for Respondents

Floyd Abrams

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Warren E. Burger, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting

Thurgood Marshall, Potter Stewart


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

18 April 1979


The Court reversed the court of appeals and reinstated the district court's ruling. The Court held that defendants have no privilege under the First Amendment which would bar a plaintiff from inquiring into the editorial process or states of mind of those involved in the alleged libel, if the inquiry was tailored to the production of evidence considered material to plaintiff's necessary burden of proof.

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.
Hicklin v. Orbeck - Significance, Work For Residents Only, Many States, One Nation, Whose Resources Are They? [next] [back] Harris v. McRae - Significance, The Hyde Amendment, Back At The District Court, Returning To The Supreme Court

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