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Brief for the Petitioners

Questions Presented

  1. Whether, consistently with the guarantee of freedom of the press in the First Amendment as embodied in the Fourteenth, a State may hold libelous per se and actionable by an elected City Commissioner published statements critical of the conduct of a department of the City Government under his general supervision, which are inaccurate in some particulars.
  2. Whether there was sufficient evidence to justify, consistently with the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press, the determination that published statements naming no individual but critical of the conduct of the "police" were defamatory as to the respondent, the elected City Commissioner with jurisdiction over the Police Department, and punishable as libelous per se.
  3. Whether an award of $500,000 as "presumed" and punitive damages for libel constituted, in the circumstances of this case, an abridgment of the freedom of the press.
  4. Whether the assumption of jurisdiction in a libel action against a foreign corporation publishing a newspaper in another State, based upon sporadic news gathering activities by correspondents, occasional solicitation of advertising and minuscule distribution of the newspaper within the forum state, transcended the territorial limitations of due process, imposed a forbidden burden on interstate commerce or abridged the freedom of the press.

Constitutional and statutory provisions involved The constitutional and statutory provisions involved are set forth in Appendix A, infra, pp. 91–95.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Brief for the Petitioners - On Writ Of Certiorari To The Supreme Court Of Alabamabrief For The Petitioner, Questions Presented, Statement