Jan 23, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Sarah Palin defamation suit against New York Times takes trial Monday

Sarah Palin. Photo: Antranik Tavitian/The Arizona Republic via Reuters

A defamation suit by Sarah Palin, who has spent more than four years battling The New York Times over a corrected editorial, will be heard in Manhattan federal court Monday, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The trial, expected to last five days, marks a rare instance of a major media company defending its editorial practices before an American jury.

What's happening: Palin bears the high burden of showing there was "actual malice" in the newspaper's editorial writing process.

  • The editorial — "America’s Lethal Politics," published after the shooting of Republican House leader Steve Scalise — originally linked Palin's PAC to the earlier shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords.

It has been 58 years since the Supreme Court adopted the "actual malice" standard in the landmark decision New York Times v. Sullivan, making it difficult for public figures to win libel suits.

  • Two current justices, conservatives Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, have suggested revisiting that standard.
  • Palin has signaled in court papers she'll challenge Sullivan on appeal if she loses at trial.
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