New York Times v. Sullivan, arguably the Supreme Court's most significant First Amendment decision, marks its fiftieth anniversary next year. Often overlooked in discussions of the case's impact on the freedom of speech and freedom of the press is that it arose from a complex puzzle of constitutional, statutory, and judge-made jurisdictional and procedural rules. These kept the case in hostile Alabama state courts for four years and a half-million-dollar judgment before the Times and its civil rights leader co-defendants finally could avail themselves of the structural protections of federal court and Article III judges. The case's outcome and the particular First Amendment rules it established are a product of this jurisdictional and procedural background. Martin H. Redish has produced a lengthy record of influential and cutting-edge scholarship on civil procedure, federal jurisdiction, and the First Amendment, and has been a sharp and unforgiving critic of many of the jurisdictional rules that kept the case out of federal court for so long. It is appropriate to recognize Redish's scholarly legacy by examining this landmark case, which sits at the intersection of his three scholarly pursuits and demonstrates why many of his arguments and criticisms are precisely correct.
Howard M. Wasserman,
A Jurisdictional Perspective on New York Times v. Sullivan
, 107 Nw. U. L. Rev. 901
Available at: http://ecollections.law.fiu.edu/faculty_publications/54